Dairy farm heifers ready to stroll

Brattleboro, Vt., kicks off June Dairy Month in mega-festival fashion this weekend to Vermont agriculture’s benefit.

On Saturday morning, freshly made cow pies on Main Street won’t deter thousands of humans from herding into downtown Brattleboro, Vt., for the 10th annual Strolling of the Heifers Parade. It’s one of the biggest celebrations – if not the biggest in the country.

The parade is a fitting start to June Dairy Month. More than 90 head of heifers plus an assortment of other farm critters, bands, tractors, agriculturally-related floats and more will take the stroll. Some 12 farms plus six 4-H and Future Farmers of America groups will parade their animals.

MAIN STREET ATTRACTIONS: Heifers galore and agriculture take over Brattleboro’s Main Street on Saturday for the annual Strolling of the Heifers Parade.

After the parade, the crowds move to the Live Green Expo park for food, entertainment and exhibits related to sustaining family farms by connecting people with healthy local food. Other events include recognition programs for farmers, women in agriculture, and 4-H youth on Friday evening, plus Sunday’s Royal Farmers Feast (breakfast), the cycling Tour de Heifer and self-guided farm tours.

Benefitting New England Ag
The heifer parade began in 2002 as a dairy festival featuring food, music, dancing, educational displays, vendors and children’s activities. Each year, the Strolling of the Heifers organization has awarded grants to schools, teachers and local organizations for projects that raise young people’s awareness about the important role family-owned farms and agriculture play in the area. Cumulatively, these grants have totaled more than $140,000.

In 2008, Strolling of the Heifers launched the Microloan Fund for New England farmers. The fund, now operated by The Carrot Project throughout New England, addresses New England farmers’ problems in obtaining financing for farm projects. Loans range from $1,000 to $10,000.

The group has also launched a number of initiatives including:

  • $140,000 for educational programs to over 80 schools and other organizations
  • A Beginning Farmer Apprenticeship Program
  • A Farm/Food Business Plan Competition that provided $30,000 in prizes for innovative, entrepreneurial business plans for farm and food businesses in Windham County
  • A Buy Local Challenge to encourage local residents to buy food grown or produced in the region
  • Published a cookbook, "Celebrating Our Roots", filled with recipes from Southeastern Vermont featuring local products and chefs
  • Presented hands-on farmer-teacher workshops
  • Provided guidance to teachers on how visits to area farms can be used to give students real-life learning experiences
  • Provided grants to farmers to attend value-added workshops
TAGS: Livestock
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