The History of Platteville Dairy Days, Inc.
The first Platteville Dairy Days occurred on September 20, 1947 as a free one-day event. The purpose was to serve as a “Thank You” to Platteville shoppers from the Platteville Business Association. People from neighboring cities and villages were encouraged to attend. In fact, each neighboring community was invited to have a candidate compete for the Dairy Days Queen. Many of these communities, including Dickeyville, Potosi, Belmont, Lancaster, Livingston and Cuba City, held their own competitions to select their Dairy Days Candidate. Along with the crowning of the Dairy Days Queen, the first Dairy Days offered stock judging at the College Farm, a parade, bubble gum contest, afternoon program in city park and an evening street dance. The free noon lunch consisted of cheese sandwiches, coffee, chocolate milk and whole milk.
The downtown area was decorated and 65 head of the finest dairy cattle from the tri-county area were on display in City Park. The merchants and other business places were expected to have window displays of exhibits by area 4-H members and Future Farmers.
To date, the first Platteville Dairy Days in 1947 was the largest event ever held in Platteville. It was estimated that around 15,000 people attended this one-day event. There were 120 entries in the two-mile parade including bands from Darlington, Belmont, Boscobel, Rewey, Lancaster, Bloomington, Fennimore and Platteville. It was reported that by actual count, 10,800 sandwich wrappers were used for the free lunch and some late comers were served unwrapped sandwiches. The lunch stands, hotel and restaurants were crowded as well.
1960s & 1970s
The Platteville Business Association became the Platteville Chamber of Commerce in 1963 and continued to host the Platteville Dairy Days celebration for several more years. In 1970 Dairy Days outgrew its space in City Park and moved to Legion Field. Faherty Bus Company provided free transportation from Avalon Theater downtown to Legion Field every half hour on Saturday.
After the 1988 celebration, the event was almost cancelled due to financial problems and operating losses. A six-member committee consisting of Marlene Lau, Hap Daus, Nancy Ziegenfus, Mike Mair, Wayne Wodarz and Dick Brockman rescued Dairy Days bringing it back to life in 1989.
In December 1993, the Platteville Chamber of Commerce decided to drop Dairy Days as a Chamber sponsored event. So, in January 1994, a new independent board was created. Dick Davies volunteered to be the chairman of this newly created board. Soon the group became incorporated and on May 16, 1994 Platteville Dairy Days, Inc. was born.
Today, Platteville Dairy Days, Inc. operates as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and has developed into a three-day event. Although not all events are free of charge, many still are, including the parade down Main Street, Dairy Days Ambassador competition, Main Stage entertainment and viewing exhibits by local students and adults. The Dairy Days organization consists of a seven-person board of directors along with many individual committee chairmen and committee members. The celebration is still supported by the Platteville merchants through sponsorships and providing volunteers. The Platteville Regional Chamber still coordinates the parade and assists the Dairy Days committee with website and promotional materials. In 2020 the Broske Center at Legion Field was completed, but due to COVID-19, the Dairy Days Celebration was cancelled. The Dairy Days committee plans to celebrate the 74th Dairy Days in 2021 with a grand 75 Year celebration in 2022.