Dairy Berry Day may be late, but sure to be just as sweet

June 23, 2008

With a cool spring, strawberries got a late start, but ripened in time just for the annual event coming up this Thursday at 7 p.m.

By Kristen Miller
Staff Writer

The cooler temperatures may have delayed the much anticipated Dairy Berry Day, but no way could it prevent the community from enjoying fresh strawberries and creamy ice cream.

The strawberry crop is about two weeks behind schedule, according to Dassel Hillside Farm owner, Julie Townsend, who donates the berries each year.

“The June berries are July berries,” she said, explaining the farm’s Upick (pick your own) won’t start until the first week in July.

Despite the later ripening, the crops are looking nice and weed-free.

“The plants look great,” she said.

The 300 community members who attend Dairy Berry Day on average, will be able to taste test the fruit for themselves this Thursday, beginning at 7 p.m. at Bandstand Park.

The park, which features a pavilion, is located along the railroad tracks on Atlantic Avenue in downtown Dassel.

In addition to the sweet strawberries is the delicious and creamy ice cream donated by the Dassel Co-op Dairy Association.

The vanilla ice cream not only goes well with berries, but also the root beer supplied by A&W, will likely quench a few thirsts, as well.

While there, community members will be able to meet the young women who could possibly be the next Dassel ambassadors.

Each year, the current Dassel Ambassadors and the candidates help serve the ice cream during the event.

Dairy Berry Day is one of the first public events for the candidates.

“The girls have talked about [Dairy Berry Day] very often and they are excited about it,” said Mary Neu, ambassador coordinator.

Volunteerism and participating and working at various community events is a staple in the ambassador program, according to Neu.

Dairy Berry Day brings out a large facet of the community with children and adults of all ages.

New this year to Dairy Berry Day will be story time with Dassel resident Irene Bender.

Rebecca Warpula of Early Childhood Family Education initiated story time because she believes it’s so important to offer fun activities for families with young children, she said.

By using a local storyteller, Warpula also wanted to share what “treasures” there are within our own community.

Beginning around 7:15 p.m., Bender will be reading from a book called “Daddy Played Music for the Cows,” written by a Hutchinson author Maryann Weidt. Weidt grew up on a farm and played in the haymow, according to Bender, and the book tells of playing in the barn, learning to yodel, and listening to the cowgirls sing on the radio.

“It’s a beautiful book. So many children don’t know what it’s like to play in a real (old-fashioned) barn where the cows get milked, the chickens lay eggs in a corner, and the kitties wait for a squirt of milk,” Bender said.

One of her other favorite childrens’ books is “Barn Dance.” This book tells of what happens in the barn after midnight while the farmer’s asleep. All the animals and the scarecrow have a barn dance in the barn, Bender explained.

“I just feel reading is so important, and children hearing stories about rural life,” Bender said.

“Even though we live in the country, it’s amazing how many children never had the opportunity – I say opportunity because it’s so much fun – to yell in a silo,” she said.

As a Heifer International volunteer, Bender understands the importance of dairy month and feeding the world.

Her trips to Peru and Guatemala, donating heifers to families so they always have a source of milk, has shown her what a difference an animal can make in the life of a family, Bender said.

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