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County Executive's Office

County Executive Announces New Long Term Contracts to Keep World Dairy Expo, Midwest Horse Fair in Dane County

June 19, 2013
Casey Slaughter Becker, Office of the County Executive 608.267.8823 or cell, 608.843.8858
County Executive

New Agreements Include $4 Million in Private Dollars to Fund
New Facilities at Alliant Energy Center


An expanded partnership between Dane County, World Dairy Expo, and The Midwest Horse Fair will keep the county home to the two premiere events for the next decade and beyond and help fully fund two new, state-of-the-art multi-use pavilions at the Alliant Energy Center (AEC), Dane County Executive Joe Parisi announced today.


“We’re thrilled that World Dairy Expo and the Midwest Horse Fair will be calling the Alliant Energy Center, and Dane County, home for a long time to come and are joining with us to fund this exciting expansion,” said Parisi.  “Through this partnership, we will transform the Alliant Energy Center grounds and strengthen its reputation as a premiere destination for a wide variety of world-class events – from agriculture shows to conventions and trade shows.”


World Dairy Expo has signed an agreement to call the AEC home for the next ten years with a five-year option.  The Midwest Horse Fair has committed to a 20-year agreement.


“World Dairy Expo is proud to invest in this project which we believe will enable our event and others to continue to thrive for many years to come,” said Scott Bentley, General Manager for World Dairy Expo. “Expo is very excited about the prospect of the new pavilions which will mean improved cow comfort for the 2,600 head of North America’s world-class cattle that travel to Madison each year to compete.”


"The Alliant Energy Center and the Midwest Horse Fair have enjoyed an incredibly strong partnership for years, and this kind of investment represents our dedication to that relationship," says Rhonda Reese, general manager of the Midwest Horse Fair. " For generations of fairgoers, the Alliant Energy Center is their home away from home for three days in the spring. These improvements will make our fair all that more attractive to everyone who attends."


World Dairy Expo is an international event with tremendous economic impact on Dane County and the state – last year’s event resulted in approximately $19 million of direct spending in the Madison area, with a Dane County regional economic impact of $50 million. 

Last year, attendance at the five day event exceeded 70,000 visitors,  with 2,950 registered international guests from 95 countries.


The Midwest Horse Fair drew 53,500 visitors to the AEC last year.  Considered one of the most popular three-day events in the Midwest, the fair draws equine enthusiasts from all over the country, as well as from Canada and even Australia. The fair brings together more than 650 horses, alongside hundreds of vendors and dozens of world-class entertainers and trainers.


Early in his first term as County Executive, Parisi initiated conversations with public and private partners regarding the future of the AEC and to develop strategies to retain long time staple events that bring millions into the region’s economy.


As a result, Parisi partnered with the state Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP), World Dairy Expo, and Midwest Horse Fair and submitted a proposal to fund an $18 million project to replace the AEC’s existing barns with two modern, state of the art multi-use pavilions.  Pending the outcome of the state budget, continued support by the Governor, and approval by the State Building Commission, the state would contribute half the cost of the project under the proposal.


At an announcement today outside of the AEC barns, the future home of the new pavilions, long-time county partners World Dairy Expo and The Midwest Horse Fair pledged their own private dollars to help make the project a reality. 


Under new agreements, World Dairy Expo will contribute $3 million for construction, and the Wisconsin Horse Council, the organization that owns Midwest Horse Fair, will contribute $1 million, should state and county funding meet final approval.


Designs for the new pavilions were unveiled Wednesday.  Once complete, the facilities will total nearly 290,000 square feet and house 2,600 head of cattle or up to 1,300 horses.  The facilities would replace aging barn facilities on the grounds – some of which date back to the 1960s – and should eliminate the need for temporary livestock housing facilities.  The new pavilions will also be more environmentally friendly than the current facilities.


The agreements will be introduced at the Dane County Board’s June 20th meeting, and are subject to the board’s final approval.

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