Grilled cheese, colored shavings, the smell of Final Bloom and fresh straw, the whirl of clipper blades and the laughter of old friends echo through the grounds of the Alliant Energy Center every October.

Mcbride matti
Editor / Progressive Dairy

For many, it’s the pinnacle of the year in the dairy industry. Exhibitors pack up their animals and travel hundreds of miles to dance with the best of them on the biggest stage in the world. Others pack up their products, best “business casual” they own and review sales pitches for a test of their skills at one of the biggest trade shows in the industry. Some pack a suitcase and are merely there to enjoy, soak up the seven days of fantastic food, sights, sounds and cows that grace Madison, Wisconsin, every year.

Behind the scenes of the elaborate decorations and eager spectators, the volunteer committee is hard at work, ensuring the shows run smoothly and remain professional.

For Jon Rasmussen, it’s one of the best weeks of the year.

The UW – Madison graduate began volunteering at WDE with the Badger Dairy Club as a student and has been involved ever since. Having grown up on a small dairy in Brillion, Wisconsin, Rasmussen got his start in the dairy industry at a young age. After graduating with a degree in dairy science, Rasmussen continued to volunteer with the dairy cattle show, checking cattle in and assisting in tracking placings.


“After I graduated, I kept helping out; I became more involved with the dairy show as technology evolved,” Rasmussen says. “I really enjoy working with the exhibitors; that’s probably the best part of being a volunteer.”

Ten years ago, the Wisconsin native stepped into the role of the superintendent of the Jersey cattle show, where he organizes and facilitates volunteers, keeps the show on schedule and oversees stalling assignments and checking cattle in.

“Jon is an amazing ‘behind the scenes’ guy,” says Anne Marie Magnochi, WDE dairy cattle show manager. “Not that he’s not out there with the exhibitors, interacting with folks in the barns and the show ring, but in a way that he’s a quiet leader [who] puts a lot of thought into his roles and responsibilities before the show. He’s helped us think through a lot of different projects to help create a better experience for exhibitors.”

Rasmussen can often be found welcoming exhibitors as they arrive or volunteering to take the overnight shift during the 24-hour health check-in.

1621pd-leak-2.jpgJon Rasmussen. Photo provided by Jon Rasmussen.


“I really enjoy watching everyone work together and seeing the show come together,” Rasmussen says. “One instance that stands out was a few years ago when a young exhibitor who had recently lost a parent made their way to Madison and came to show on the big stage. This individual didn’t have a ton of experience, but the groups who were stalled around this individual really took them in and showed them the ropes, and we’ve seen that exhibitor come back year after year. Stuff like that is my favorite part of [the] expo.”

Rasmussen comes to WDE 2021 with a new role as a volunteer, acting as the assistant superintendent for the dairy cattle show. His duties will include assisting with the management of the volunteer team in addition to his Jersey superintendent responsibilities.

“I’m really looking forward to having the show back this year,” Rasmussen says. “It’s been a while – there’s been a few shows but there hasn’t been [the] expo. I think everyone’s coming back with a refreshed enthusiasm; it really takes all of us to make this show run. 2021 is going to be an extremely exciting, awesome show.”