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Annual festival celebrates national dairy month

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  • | 4:00 a.m. June 4, 2014
  • East County
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EAST COUNTY — Karen Dakin, a Virginia native, has always wanted to be a farmer.

Her childhood dream later came to life when Dakin, alongside her husband, Jerry, opened their East County farm 12 years ago.

As a culmination of her love for living off the land, and in honor of national dairy month, Karen Dakin and her husband will host the second annual Dakin Dairy Day Festival.

“This (event) is an accumulation of all the do’s and don’ts I learned from last year’s festival,” Karen Dakin said. “It’s about keeping true to my instincts, that thing buried deep inside — my passion for farming.”

Music, cooking and 4-H demonstrations and other attractions will take over the farm from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, June 7, at the Dakin Dairy Farms, 30771 Betts Road, Myaka.

Entry costs $15 for adults, $10 for ages 2 to 10, and free for children under 2 years old.

Farm tours cost an additional $5.

The festival will feature music by local musicians, such as Matt Walden, Paige Merriman and the farmers’ daughter, Alex Dakin.

Karen Dakin promises a family-friendly environment at the event, which she launched last year with the help of five of her employees.

This year’s festival will feature more water attractions — including 12- and 35-foot water slides and a 30-foot Slip ‘N Slide — for younger attendees. 

Children can also play in the corn crib — a sandbox-style area made of a mountain of corn pieces.

Other child attractions include watching pigs race around their fenced terrain and learning to make butter.

Proceeds from a 50/50 raffle will benefit Harvest House Transitional Centers, an organization that provides discounted drug and alcohol treatment services and low-income housing for homeless families. Interested individuals can purchase $1 tickets for end-of-season gift items, such as handmade bowls and ceramic pumpkins, sold in the farm’s gift shop.

Dakin also plans to bring greater focus to National Dairy Month by introducing more booths showcasing food made from dairy products.

Keiser University students will also host “Culin-Dairy” cooking demonstrations throughout the day.
Spectators will learn to make mozzarella as well as peach and strawberry desserts.

Sharing the same wooden pavilion will be the Extreme Grilled Cheese Experience, for which staff members of the dairy farm’s kitchen will cook seven varieties of the cheese-filled sandwich, which patrons can purchase. 

The grilled cheese experience replaces the macaroni and cheese cook-off held last year.

Additionally, attendees can take a hayride back to the parking lot — a more spacious, entertaining option than walking or riding in a golf cart, Dakin said.

The event illustrates the countless daydreams Dakin has had over the years of finding new ways to share the importance of farming with her community, she said.

“My mind draws pictures of my dreams, things I want to do at the farm,” Dakin said. “People look at me like I’m in a daze, and I say, ‘Don’t mind me, I’m just drawing pictures.’”



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