Live auctions, cattle show highlights of Dane County Breakfast on the Farm.
Hosting a breakfast on the farm is something Riley Kahl always wanted to do. As a result, this auctioneer and former dairy farmer began planning the day’s festivities years in advance. Kahl wanted to give people the opportunity to witness things he felt most had probably not seen before – a dairy show and a live auction.
“I’ve been thinking about this for five years,” Kahl said. “In order to keep people coming, you have to do different things. I like to do things no one else would do, and I wanted to have a dairy show just like at the fair.”
Featuring 15 calves and heifers, the show ended up being one of the biggest attractions of the breakfast. Various breeds including Brown Swiss, Guernsey, Holstein, Red and White Holstein and Jersey were shown by local 4-H youth.
“The cattle show exceeded my expectations,” Kahl said. “It was packed.”
The 44th annual Dane County Breakfast on the Farm took place June 10 from 7-11:30 a.m. at the Kahl Family Farm near Verona. Purchased by his parents in 1959, the farm is Kahl’s childhood home. Kahl milked cows until 1998 and continues to farm 300 acres of corn and soybeans.
“Dairy is in my blood,” Kahl said. “I miss the cows every day.”
Educating others about agriculture and the dairy industry remain passions of Kahl.
“Too many people have a false idea about what dairy is, and they form an opinion,” Kahl said. “The breakfast is an opportunity to educate people who live in town about dairy. Many farmers and volunteers were here to help provide that education. It was a great day.”
Mike Marean, member of the Dane County Dairy Promotion Committee, has helped coordinate the breakfast for more than 20 years.
“It’s becoming harder and harder to find true operating dairy farms that are willing to host breakfast on the farm,” Marean said. “That’s why we made a special point to bring in heifers and other animals. Riley is a long-time supporter of the breakfast. Every year, he donates tents and brings his auction trailers for selling tickets. He’s done a lot for the event over the years.”
Show animals spent the night before the breakfast at Kahl’s farm, and kids used his wash rack to prepare their animals for the show, which was judged by Ryan Smith of Monticello. After the show, the exhibitors walked their cattle among the crowds of people, answering questions and offering kids in the audience an opportunity to show in the future.
“A farmer who had open heart surgery still came to the breakfast and brought Guernseys from his farm for the show,” Kahl said. “That’s the kind of people farmers are. They keep their word no matter what.”
Guests enjoyed a breakfast of pancakes, cheesy eggs, sausage, cheese, yogurt, milk and ice cream. About 4,900 meals were served. While waiting in line, people could sign an autograph board.
“It’s a great memento for us,” Kahl said.
Guests also took in various auctions while at Kahl’s farm. Excitement filled the air as the first of two live auctions began at 8:30 a.m. The first one took place during the breakfast and featured donations from local businesses – nearly 50 items – including gift cards, cheese, toy tractors, car detailing services and more. The proceeds, which totaled $1,500, were donated to the Community Action Coalition which supports Dane County and neighboring counties with food and housing assistance.
At 11:30 a.m., the Kahls transitioned to a live consignment auction, selling everything from flowers to machinery. About a dozen auctioneers came to assist Kahl that day. Rotating through various auctioneers offered those in attendance a sampling of different auctioneering styles.
“Some people came for breakfast and stayed for the second auction as well,” Kahl said.
Kahl was also in the midst of a 10-day online auction set up in one of his buildings that breakfast on the farm goers could view and bid on.
“I wanted to bring an awareness to auctions, and people had the chance to learn about different types of auctions that day,” Kahl said. “Post pandemic, many auctions went online when before, they were traditionally live. A lot of people don’t understand how an online auction works unless they visually see one.”
Kahl’s love for auctioneering started at a young age. He grew up as his grandpa’s right-hand man, working on the farm and attending auctions together. Kahl became registered as a licensed auctioneer in 1995 and is the current president of the Wisconsin Auctioneers Association and a member of the National Auctioneers Association. He has a couple thousand auctions under his belt through his business, Imkahlng Auctions.
“I love being able to help people,” Kahl said. “When they have all these things in their house or garage and they call an auctioneer, they feel better afterward.”
From fair and farm auctions to estate auctions and beyond, Kahl said he will pretty much sell anything.
“It would be boring if I just specialized in one thing,” he said. “Sometimes, you don’t realize how valuable something is and you might start the bidding at $2.50 and it ends up selling for $1,000. Everything is unique in its own way.”
When it comes to bid calling, Kahl said every auctioneer has their own chant.
“To be an auctioneer is way more than just the chant though,” he said. “It’s about marketing and preparing and putting the auction together. There is a lot of preparation involved.”
Kahl did 96 auctions last year, including online, live and benefit. He also helps other auctioneers. In September 2021, Kahl did a 24-hour live auction on his farm.
“I’m so busy that I’m booked for at least three years,” he said.
Breakfast on the farm also included a petting zoo, vendor booths, antique tractors and live music. The ice cream booth welcomed a non-stop line, treating people to three flavors, including cookies and cream, strawberry and salted caramel. In addition, Yahara Pride Farms piqued curiosity with a water quality demonstration.
Alice in Dairyland Taylor Schaefer and Wisconsin Fairest of the Fairs Sharlene Swedlund were there along with Pam Jahnke from Mid-West Farm Report. The crowning of Dane County Fairest of the Fair Aubrey Schlimgen also took place that day.
“When people asked me, ‘Why would you want to host breakfast on the farm?’, my response was, ‘Why wouldn’t you?’” Kahl said. “I always take the call of another auctioneer, and in life, you have to take the call too.”
Some people skipped the food and came for the other events, and Kahl estimates 7,000 people visited his family’s farm June 10.
Marean and other members of the dairy promotion committee felt the breakfast was a huge success.
“It was an excellent day,” Marean said.
|Stacey Smart, Staff Write|