The XIT Museum now features a hand-on dairy section as part of partnership with Hilmar Cheese Company, Dairy MAX and the Southwest Dairy Museum. The exhibits are part of a national dairy exhibit program sponsored by Dairy Management Inc.
The exhibits opened the evening of June 30 with a ribbon cutting ceremony and dairy festival on the Dallam County courthouse lawn. Representatives from the Dalhart chamber, city, county and hundreds of local people joined the celebration.
"We are excited to have these new hands-on activities, they are fun for guests of all ages," said Nick Olson, director of the XIT Museum. "This is a great addition and it will give visitors a chance to learn about the growing dairy and cheese industry in our area."
The XIT Museum contains exhibits on the XIT Ranch and ranching equipment, wagons and several period rooms, a wedding chapel, and diorama of area wildlife. A newly renovated art gallery features different artists" exhibits throughout the year. The museum also hosts changing exhibits on collections of hats, guns, cameras and other historical items.
The new dairy exhibit features videos of actual dairy farms, real items used on the farm and activities to educate families on the origin of milk, the care dairy farmers provide to the environment, their animals, and the quality and safety of the milk they produce. The exhibit also educates on the health benefits of dairy.
"We offer a "dress up" area and kids love to try on the clothes of a dairy farmer, veterinarian and cheesemaker. They especially love their free souvenir hairnet," explained Denise Skidmore, director of education and public relations for Hilmar Cheese Company. "The exhibit also has dairy items to touch like a calf bottle, buttons to push to light up different parts of the dairy model and a chance to feel the real filters that Hilmar Cheese Company uses to recycle our water."
The exhibits were designed by Dairy Management, Inc. as part of their Dairy Farmer Image Program to help narrow the information gap between dairy producers and the general public. The exhibits were built by Acme Scenery.
"We get calls about touring the cheese plant and tours are just not practical with today's biosecurity rules," commented Jim McDaniel, site director of Hilmar Cheese Company's Dalhart facility. "The dairy industry is growing and we hope this exhibit will teach people about the many careers opportunities and encourage them to explore jobs in the dairy industry."
"We are very grateful for the partnership with the XIT Museum, Dairy MAX and the Southwest Dairy Museum to help us have this exhibit here. The exhibit is similar to the one in Hilmar Cheese Company's visitor center in California, with a few changes to be sure it reflects the Texas dairy industry and the great things we do here," Jim added with smile.