Make us your home page

Cow Town USA draws kids at Hernando County Fair in Brooksville

BROOKSVILLE — Brett Nauger is no stranger to country life, but until last year, the 12-year-old had never milked a cow.

He crossed that threshold at the Hernando County Fair and Youth Livestock in 2008 and this year, he was back for more. He got his chance at Cow Town, an interactive exhibit that is making its debut this year at the fair.

Cow Town allows kids to milk a cow and churn the fresh milk into butter or crank it into ice cream.

Brett's family's farm does not have dairy cows, but the sixth-grader at Parrott Elementary School is keenly interested in all kinds of farm critters. At the fair, he's competing with a market hog, market steer, eight rabbits, two turkeys and two chickens.

As for milking a cow, which he did twice on the fair's opening day Monday, Brett said, "If you're country like me, it's normal. If you're city, you might be grossed."

The youngster exhibited a good squeeze and pull on the teats, just in that necessary order. But some of his squirts in the milk pail were off target, splashing on the floor of the cow's enclosure.

The Holstein stamped a bit, turning her head to give Brett the eye. Neither Brett nor Cow Town vendor Michael Sandlofer complained. Cleanup was a given.

Cleanliness was emphasized in a brief introduction by Sandlofer. As kids sat atop commercial milk cans, the farmer told them to wash their hands before milking, wash the cow's teats, wash their hands afterwards, just as on the farm. Those who trekked into the stall also had to walk through a shoe sanitizing bath.

"We use stainless steel," Sandlofer added, saying, "It doesn't grow bacteria."

The children could begin the experience by hand-grinding grain to feed the cow. After harvesting the milk, they could paddle it into fresh butter, then eat it on a cracker. With a hand-cranked, ice-packed tub, they could produce ice cream.

Said Sandlofer, "This is about the word handmade, what their ancestors did."

The farmer-vendor told the youngsters that agriculture's first need is good soil, then healthy grass feed for cows from that soil. Grass also contributes oxygen to the atmosphere, he pointed out. "We have to be good stewards," he emphasized. "We have to take responsibility."

And he quizzed his visitors: "What is a ruminant?" Answer: A cud-chewing animal. "How many stomachs does a cow have?" Answer: four.

As a new exhibitor this year, Cow Town drew the farthest slot on the agricultural side of the fairgrounds, beyond the stall barns. Few fair-goers were aware of the venue or could find it on opening day.

Fair administrator Joy Jackson said that was noted in Monday's late night wrapup meeting of officials, and signs pointing to Cow Town were installed.

The interactive venue, which the Sandlofer family from Lynchburg, S.C., stages at fairs and festivals from Maine to Florida, is free to fair patrons. The fair has paid the venue to set up exhibit but Jackson declined to give the price.

Beth Gray can be contacted at

Cow Town USA draws kids at Hernando County Fair in Brooksville 04/09/09 [Last modified: Thursday, April 9, 2009 8:12pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. In advertising, marketing diversity needs a boost in Tampa Bay, nationally


    TAMPA — Trimeka Benjamin was focused on a career in broadcast journalism when she entered Bethune-Cookman University.

    From left, Swim Digital marketing owner Trimeka Benjamin discusses the broad lack of diversity in advertising and marketing with 22 Squared copywriter Luke Sokolewicz, University of Tampa advertising/PR professor Jennifer Whelihan, Rumbo creative director George Zwierko and Nancy Vaughn of the White Book Agency. The group recently met at The Bunker in Ybor City.
  2. Tampa Club president seeks assessment fee from members


    TAMPA — The president of the Tampa Club said he asked members last month to pay an additional assessment fee to provide "additional revenue." However, Ron Licata said Friday that the downtown business group is not in a dire financial situation.

    Ron Licata, president of the Tampa Club in downtown Tampa. [Tampa Club]
  3. Under Republican health care bill, Florida must make up $7.5 billion


    If a Senate bill called the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017 becomes law, Florida's government would need to make up about $7.5 billion to maintain its current health care system. The bill, which is one of the Republican Party's long-promised answers to the Affordable Care Act imposes a cap on funding per enrollee …

    Florida would need to cover $7.5 billion to keep its health care program under the Republican-proposed Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017.  [Times file photo]
  4. Amid U.S. real estate buying binge by foreign investors, Florida remains first choice

    Real Estate

    Foreign investment in U.S. residential real estate recently skyrocketed to a new high with nearly half of all foreign sales happening in Florida, California and Texas.

    A National Association of Realtors annual survey found record volume and activity by foreign buyers of U.S. real estate. Florida had the highest foreign investment activity, followed by California and Texas. [National Association of Realtors]
  5. Trigaux: Tampa Bay health care leaders wary of getting too far ahead in disruptive times


    Are attempts to repeal Obamacare dead for the foreseeable future? Might the Affordable Care Act (ACA), now in dire limbo, be revived? Will Medicaid coverage for the most in need be gutted? Can Republicans now in charge of the White House, Senate and House ever agree to deliver a substitute health care plan that people …

    Natalia Ricabal of Lutz, 12 years old, joined other pediatric cancer patients in Washington in July to urge Congress to protect Medicaid coverage that helped patients like Ricabal fight cancer. She was diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma in 2013 and has undergone extensive treatments at BayCare's St. Joseph's Children's Hospital in Tampa. [Courtesy of BayCare]