Back to the farm

“Easy” is how youngster Karly Just described her first experience with milking a cow.

Just, who lives on a beef farm near Berlin, is among fair-goers, young and old, who have stopped by Cow Town so far this past week to try their hand at milking, churning butter or feeding the cows.

“It was fun,” Just said of her milking experience. Even though she and her friends came to the show with a farm background, they still learned a few things while sitting on old milk cans, listening to Cow Town operator Michael Sandlofer talk about cows. For instance, cows have four stomachs or a four-part stomach and they regurgitate food, which leads them to chew their cud.

Sandlofer said the goal of the show is to bring adults and children closer to the farm life that America has strayed from over the years.

“We try to show kids that we share the planet Earth with all forms of life, and it’s up to all of us to care about the animals and the environment,” he said.

Sandlofer and his wife, Sharon, who also operate the wolves exhibit at the fair, have farms in New York and South Carolina, where they raise about 100 animals. They tour year-round with their shows, which also include a heritage show featuring mule- and donkey-driven equipment.

The two cows at Cow Town were rescued from the hamburger bun. One has only three producing teats rather than four on her udder, so she’s not a good producer for a regular dairy farm. The other has an udder abnormality that makes her difficult to milk. Cow Town also has two calves, one beef and one dairy.

The Sandlofers are supporters of the self-sustained lifestyle and encourage people to produce more of their own food and take advantage of locally produced products. Showing people how to make butter, cheese, ice cream or soap like their grandparents or great-grandparents did gets folks looking at products they eat or use in a different way.

“Learn to eat natural right from the farm,” Sandlofer told a group of children lined up for a taste of handmade butter on crackers.

According to a statement by the nation’s agriculture secretary, 75 percent of Americans don’t know where their food comes from, Sandlofer said. Cow Town is a doing its part to correct that, and Sandlofer said the reception from audiences has been good.

“It’s interesting to them, and they want to know,” he said.

Cow Town takes place on Stage 7 in the northeast corner of the fairgrounds. The shows run through Saturday, starting at noon, 2:30 p.m., 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. each day.