The dairy barn at the New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum in Las Cruces has a new look, a new name, and lots of fun, new activities and exhibits.
The Dairy Spot: Discovery Center opens to the public with a special celebration on Oct. 29 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Caliche’s Frozen Custard will be on site to provide a free 5-ounce serving to the first 500 visitors, and guests are invited to make their own ice cream using Ziplock bags. Milking and other demonstrations also are part of the fun. Regular admission applies ($5 for adults, $4 for senior citizens, and $3 for children 4 to 17), and it includes all the Museum’s regular offerings.
With this renovation, The Dairy Spot: Discovery Center will continue to share New Mexico’s dairy history but will be more child-friendly and have more interactive exhibits. This brighter, livelier venue includes a multi-use public space that can be used for everything from demonstrations to children’s birthday parties.
The Southwest Dairy Farmers’ $30,000 donation to the Museum last year made the renovation possible.
“Our long-standing partnership with the New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum continues to build on our objectives to educate young and old alike about the dairy industry and the good, nutritional, and wholesome products produced by New Mexico and American dairy farmers,” said Jim Hill, CEO of Southwest Dairy Farmers. “The Southwest Dairy Farmers are proud to be a part of this project.”
The partnership between Southwest Dairy Farmers and the New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum is a natural one, sharing the goal of preserving the history of dairy farming in New Mexico and educating the public about this important industry.
“We are thrilled to be able to continue our partnership with Southwest Dairy that began 25 years ago,” said the Museum’s Executive Director, Heather Reed. “Together, we produced an innovative and immersive exhibit that showcases the depth of our history and explores the present-day advances in agriculture.”
Visitors to The Dairy Spot will enjoy videos of ice cream making, the process of pasteurization, and farm to table. Some of the topics featured in The Dairy Spot are the breeds of dairy cattle, sources of milk from around the world, a cow’s anatomy, nutrition, cheese, ice cream, butter, and lots of fun facts. Among the interactives are a butter churn, a cheese fridge, and an “I spy” activity featuring a house with various dairy products.
The dairy industry plays an important role in the story of New Mexico agriculture. The first cattle were brought into this region by the Spanish in 1598, so dairy farming has a long, rich history in this region.
The importance of dairies in New Mexico is reflected in the national statistics where the state currently ranks ninth in milk production and fifth in cheese production. This partnership with Southwest Dairy Farmers helps put the Museum in regular contact with experts in the industry, providing the latest information and technology.