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New barn would feature milking demo

Kelly Huot talks with the judge about her holtstein winter senior yearling project during the 4-H Dairy Show at the Stevens County Fair on Friday, Aug. 11 in Morris. Brooke Kern / Stevens County Times1 / 2
This map shows where the new planned dairy barn will be located on the Stevens County Fairgrounds. Graphic from Stevens County 4-H2 / 2

Although the plan is to build a new dairy barn on the Stevens County Fairgrounds, 4-H coordinator Kirstin Koch said the building will house more than dairy cows.

Koch said the buiding can be used year-round for 4-H and other community activities.

"It will be open year-round," Koch said. Activities suitable for the building include club meetings, the 4-H shooting sports, science activities and others.

The county 4-H program is leading the effort to bulld the new barn. The 4-H program has experience with building projects over the past 14 years. It has helped build a new sheep barn and remodel a show arena and other projects.

Koch said in an interview at the fair board appreciation event on April 8 that almost half of the money needed for the barn will be received in in-kind donations.

The 4-H program continues to accept donations toward the barn project. The progam plans to have a ground-breaking ceremony on April 23, but that ceremony depends on the weather, Koch said. The barn will be ready for this year's fair on Aug. 7-12.

While there is potential for year-round use, Koch said organizers are excited about the building's use during the fair.

"Our (4-H) dairy project has grown four-fold in the last three years," Koch said.

4-H members can lease a dairy heifer or calf from Riverview LLP and show that animal at the fair.

The new barn will provide more space for those exhibitors and also be a space for those showing non-dairy livestock, Koch said.

The fair had already offered milking demonstrations with a portable milking machine. The new barn will have a milking parlor so that fairgoers can watch and learn how milking is done on dairy farms.

"It's a great opportunity for fairgoers to learn about the process," Koch said. It's also an opportunity for 4-H members who will help with the milking parlor, she said.

The barn will also be the site of education space with hands-on activities to teach fairgoers about dairy and dairy herds , Koch said.

The St. Mary's Shake Shack, which serves milkshakes, will also be located inside the new dairy barn.

Past fair board chairman and current vice chairman Steve Storck said the dairy barn will be a nice addition to the fair.

"I'm glad the 4-H program decided to take it on," Storck said.