Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Off the interstate in Mauston, Wisconsin: A community that’s dairy proud June 5, 2018

A glimpse of Mauston’s rural character.


IF YOU NEVER EXIT the interstate into a small town, you miss so much. Like the Cowtastic CowMoonity of Mauston. That would be in southwestern Wisconsin, just off Interstate 90/94 half-way between Minneapolis and Chicago.



A search for a picnic spot led Randy and me into this community of nearly 4,500 on a recent Saturday. After securing unclear directions to a park at a local convenience store/gas station, we ended up lost and seemingly headed out of town.






Then we happened upon the cows. And I momentarily forgot all about lunch, so excited was I over the herd curving along a ballpark fence. We’d just discovered, quite by happenstance, the Cowtastic CowMoonity Project of the Juneau County Dairy Promotion Council. At the under-renovation Mauston Lions Park, complete with picnic shelter, tables, restrooms and playground equipment.





After eating my turkey sandwich, clementine and yogurt—yes, yogurt—I headed over to the 60-head herd, camera in hand. You can bet this former dairy farm girl and former Redwood County, Minnesota, dairy princess candidate was excited.





It’s clear this community embraces all things dairy. This marks the fourth annual cow art project designed to promote the dairy industry via those cow cut-outs and panels of dairy facts and trivia.





Nonprofits, youth clubs, organizations and businesses purchase plywood cut-outs and then create cow art showcased along the park fence during June Dairy Month. So this is about more than just agriculture. Cowtastic CowMoonity also promotes local businesses and causes.



I love this folksy idea. What a creative way to educate, raise awareness and to show appreciation for the dairy industry, especially family-owned farms, in The Dairyland State.





The promotion of the dairy industry doesn’t end, though, when June Dairy Month ends at the end of June. Ten of the cows, selected by a secret panel of judges, are relocated to Veteran’s Memorial Park during the Juneau County Fair, this year from August 12 – 19. Good luck with that, judges. The public then votes for its favorite with the top cow earning a $100 prize.





Because of those cows, I’ll remember the CowMoonity of Mauston. I’d suggest this creative and dairy proud community visibly promote this outdoor educational art endeavor along the interstate. Or perhaps station a Cowtastic cow or three near that busy busy convenience store/gas station just off busy busy Interstate 90/94.



FYI: Want to play Wisconsin dairy trivia? Click here.

© Copyright 2018 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


20 Responses to “Off the interstate in Mauston, Wisconsin: A community that’s dairy proud”

  1. Beth Ann Says:

    I am officially in love with this post. Cows, cows and more cows! Love it. What a creative way to help promote the dairy industry. Thanks for sharing!

  2. treadlemusic Says:

    The purple cow definitely gets my vote!!!!!!

  3. valeriebollinger Says:

    Clever idea…fun to look at…I like the hats, scarf and cow bell for added dimension.

  4. Jackie Says:

    Just love this post! Those cows are amazing, Loved looking at every photo.There are some very creative folk in Mauston!

  5. Missy's Crafty Mess Says:

    What great advertisements. Very creative

  6. Murphy's Law Says:

    So Audrey, was it UDDERLY a COWincidence that you found this treasure of a town during their Cowtastic CowMoonity Project?

    Okay, MOOving right along, I have to tell you I love this post. So much fun. All the cow cutouts are terrific, but the cow I am still laughing over is the one with the teeth (Peace Presbyterian). I don’t know if it would make me drink milk, but if I were an atheist, it would send me to church! Lol.

    Great find. Great photos. Great post.
    🔹 Ginger 🔹

  7. Dawn Says:

    Love this Audrey! It’s so fun to get off the interstate once in a while.

  8. bhlr2014 Says:

    Did you get to the Carr Valley cheese shop? I always went to Mauston on my way home from the Dells to get cheese curds and other cheese there,

  9. Dylan T Paszek Says:

    Hello Audrey. I was wondering if you had a contact for J.C. Dairy Promotion Council. I need a form from them and I have not gotten a response from them. Thanks!

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