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Lincoln County celebrates Dairy Month

Photos by Alex Jacks/Ard’s Dairy Farm brought a pair of wdairy calves to the Brookhaven Farmers’ Market in Railroad Park Friday in celebration of Dairy Day.

Photos by Alex Jacks/Ard’s Dairy Farm brought a pair of wdairy calves to the Brookhaven Farmers’ Market in Railroad Park Friday in celebration of Dairy Day.

Lincoln County’s got milk.

Of the 82 Grade A dairy herds in Mississippi, Lincoln County boasts 11 of them. This makes for a fun-filled Dairy Month, and especially delicious Dairy Day for all local lactose lovers.

The county celebrated the special day with numerous educational displays and giveaways at the Brookhaven Farmers’ Market in Railroad Park Friday morning.

The event, sponsored by the Mississippi State University’s Cooperative Extension Service, provided the community with a local platform to ask questions of their dairymen.

The dairymen, on the other hand, used the opportunity to educate their fellow community members on how their milk, cheese and other dairy products go from farm to table.

Julie Ard James and Pat Ard from Ard’s Dairy Farm brought two dairy calves — a Holstein and a Ayrshire — to Railroad Park for children to pet, while parents questioned the dairymen on their products.

James encouraged visitors to ask questions about the dairy’s animals and products, along with its dairy practices.

“Lincoln County Dairy Day is important because it brings awareness to the community,” she said. “It allows people to ask questions and learn about the animals and people that feed them. Many people don’t realize where their milk comes from and it is important for us as dairymen to teach them.”

Ard agreed with James’ sentiment about educating the community.

“People do not know where their dairy products come from and in many cases do not know where their food comes from,” he said. “It is up to the people who produce those products to educated those who eat them.”

Ard’s Dairy Farm milks 200 cows twice a day.

“I have been milking since 1972,” Ard said. “In order the stay a float, we have tried to save money on the little things, like mixing our own feed verses having someone do it for us. We have diversified our farm as best we can.”

Ard’s Dairy Farm offers a “moo choo” train, wagon rides, zip lining, corn pool and a fall festival in October. The farm is open to birthday parties, church groups, field trips, home school groups and anyone looking to learn more about the dairy industry.

Other local dairymen were on site talking about what they do and how they produce milk for the area.

“We love celebrating dairy month in Lincoln County,” MSU Extension Center County Director Rebecca Bates said. “There is a long history of dairies in Lincoln County, and almost everyone who grew up here has been touched by dairies. Lincoln County is the second largest dairy county in the state by numbers.”

Mississippi was home to more than 12,000 milk cows in 2015, according to Mississippi Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources data. In 2015, Mississippi milk production had a value of $32 million, the data said.

In addition to the educational dairy displays, a dairy recipe contest was held at the Brookhaven Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce. Two divisions — youth, ages 7 to 17, and adult, ages 18 and up — competed for the contest title. Each dish had to contain at least one cup of dairy product and fit into a category of appetizer, main dish or dessert.

Farm Bureau returned to the Farmer’s Market with hamburgers for sale as well as free sweet corn. Free chocolate milk and ice cream was distributed among those who attended the event.

The Farmer’s Market will continue through August every Tuesday from 3 to 6 p.m. at the Godbold Transportation Center and every Friday from 7:30 a.m. until noon in Railroad Park.

For more information about dairy month or the Brookhaven Farmer’s Market contact Bates at 601-835-3460.