By Starrla Cray
WRIGHT COUNTY, MN “We couldn’t have had a better day,” Faye Bakeberg said of Wright County’s first “Breakfast on the Farm” event June 20 at Goldview Farms south of Howard Lake. “It was perfect.”
She was referring to the weather, but the estimated 1,200 people served at the four-hour pancake and sausage breakfast seemed to have had a “perfect” time as well.
“We had so many good comments,” said Faye, who owns Goldview Farms with her husband, Greg, and son, Pat.
One boy wrote on the comment sheet, “This was the funnest day in my nine years of life.”
Another family wrote that they’d like to live at Bakebergs’ farm.
Throughout the morning, visitors had the opportunity to tour the farm, talk with industry professionals, get a picture with a calf, look at machinery, sample dairy and pork products, and much more.
The purpose of the event was to educate the public about the dairy industry, Faye said.
“There are so many families that are so far removed from farming,” she said. “We want them to feel they can trust the food because it comes from farms like this.”
Pat said it was a good opportunity for people to learn about the cows and milk production, and get answers to questions like: How much milk does one cow produce? How much does a cow eat per day? What does a milking parlor look like?
Many people traveled long distances to learn about dairy farming, including two men from Egypt who are staying in the United States for six months.
People also came from Baldwin WI., Sioux Falls SD, Duluth, Warroad, and many other Minnesota towns.
“I know we had a lot, a lot of city people,” Faye said. “It was a diversified group.”
Faye said they don’t have an official count on the total number of people, but it might have been close to 1,500.
“It was much more than I expected,” said Faye, who anticipated about 700 to 1,000 people.
“We ran out of plates. We ran out of forks,” she said. A trip into town fixed that problem, and at the end, there was still plenty of leftover food, with enough sausages for 50 people and pancake batter to feed 200.
The breakfast was catered by Chris Cakes, a company from Pocahontas, IA, that serves in eight states.
“They had such a good system,” Faye said. “They want to come back next year.”
Although there were people of all ages at the breakfast, the majority of the attendees were young families.
Tom Haataja of Watertown took his three daughters, Andrea, Brita, and Allison.
“This is really neat,” said Haataja, who had worked on a farm for his cousin in Cokato.
Bonnie Nielsen of Delano and her 2-year-old son, Drew, also enjoyed seeing the farm.
“We know nothing about dairy farming,” she said, adding that the event was a good opportunity to do something fun and inexpensive with her son.
Many experienced farmers also attended, and about 50 volunteers helped with parking, tours, and other jobs.
“I’ve been a farmer all my life,” Norman Duske of Montrose said.
Duske, along with Paul Hunz of Howard Lake, gave hayrides with their Oliver tractors and wagons. Duske has a collection of 20 Oliver-brand tractors. Hunz has four Olivers and three Allis Chalmers.
Several sponsors helped to fund the event, which was free to the public except for the $2 breakfast.
“We got a lot of good donations,” Pat said. All proceeds will be given to a local food shelf.
Next year, the Bakebergs plan to host the event again, making minor improvements, such as more tour guides and a tent with chairs by the petting zoo. They also might include a scavenger hunt with prizes.
In 2011, Faye said she hopes another farm in Wright County will host the breakfast, so that people can see other farms in the area as well.
For Faye, the best part of hosting the event was the appreciation people showed for the work they did.
“After seeing all the smiles, it was worth it,” she said. “We just had a good time, and I think everybody else did too, I hope.”