Temple Grandin, animal welfare activist, to speak at Kickapoo Country Fair

Organic Valley scored a big coup for this year's Kickapoo Country Fair. The festival, which takes place July 24-25 in La Farge, Wisconsin, will host Dr. Temple Grandin as its keynote speaker. Grandin learned to cope with autism and use her unique mind to do groundbreaking work with humane livestock handling, causing her to be named one of Time magazine's most influential people in the world and become the subject of an Emmy-nominated HBO movie, Temple Grandin, staring Clarie Danes.

The Hot Dish spoke with Grandin to learn more about what to expect from her participation in the fair:

Grandin will be giving two talks, including, "How Animals Make Us Human" on the subject of animal care. "I'll be talking about how animals are sensory-based, visual thinkers who think in terms of sound and touch," Grandin says. She'll be talking about the importance of reducing animals' fear and how to monitor and assess animal welfare, including basic visual inspections of a cow's body condition.

In Grandin's second talk, "The Way I See It: A Personal Look at Autism and Asperger's," she'll offer several tips and strategies on understanding how those with autism and Aspberger's perceive the world. Grandin says that people like herself tend to think in a sensory-based way, as animals do, and can often have strong sensory sensitivity. "Some can't tolerate florescent lights," she says. "They might go into a supermarket and they feel like they're inside the speakers at the rock concert."

She notes that autism presents a large spectrum of conditions, from geniuses working in Silicon Valley to those who are nonverbal and remain severely handicapped. Often, many will be gifted in specialized, visual, and pattern-based thinking, which can be useful skills for everything from computer programming to farming.

Organic Valley is connected to Grandin though its head of animal wellness and husbandry policies, Dr. Wendy Fulwider, who was a graduate student of Grandin's. Fulwider, who visits each Organic Valley co-op member to assess animal welfare, has been greatly influenced by Grandin's work regarding animal treatment in both farms and abattoirs.

Grandin refutes the common misconception that the size of a farm affects how animals are treated. "It gets down to management," she says, "A well-managed place won't have a problem." Proper staffing is essential. "Don't overwork and understaff," she says. "That can happen in a big or small operation." Also, she notes, slaughter practices can improve when the facilities supply powerful customers, such as McDonald's. "Plants audited by a customer tend to be better," she says.

Kickapoo Country Fair Schedule of Events:

Saturday: Adults - $10.00, Kids 12 & under - $5.00, kids 5 & under free Sunday: Adults - $5.00, Kids 12 & under free

HEADLINERS: Temple Grandin: Saturday, 1:00 p.m. - Word Tent Organic Valley proudly welcomes Dr. Temple Grandin, a leading national authority on humane livestock handling, and one of TIME Magazine's most influential people in the world poll. Grandin is a pioneer in creating humane handling systems in the livestock industry and is a teacher and consultant in the field. She's also the most accomplished and well-known adult with autism in the world, and the best-selling author of Thinking in Pictures, Animals in Translation and Humane Livestock Handling. For more information about Temple Grandin, visit

Miles Nielsen: Saturday, 8:30 p.m. - Main Stage Singer/songwriter and Rockford, Ill. native Miles Nielsen will stir up his own brand of "Beatles-esque Cosmic Americana" on the main stage. Lilting pop arrangements and sunny melodies hide deeply affecting lyrics and--tucked away between a long forgotten country folk steel guitar, bouncing bass and smooth-as-butter keys--a little piece of Midwestern bliss. For more information about Miles Nielsen, visit

Michael Perry: Sunday, 11:00 a.m. - Word Tent Michael Perry and the Long Beds: Sunday, 2:00 p.m. - Main Stage Beloved Wisconsin author and musician Michael Perry will read from his latest book, Coop: A Year of Poultry, Pigs and Parenting, a humorous, heartfelt memoir of a new life in the country. He will also make a rare appearance with his band, the Long Beds, on Sunday.

NANDA: Saturday, July 25, 4 p.m. - Prairie Acoustic Stage These four "acrobaticalists" are back for a third year to entertain young and old with their show of creative juggling, break dancing, flipping, kung fu fighting, music and more.

EVENT SCHEDULE: Saturday, July 24, 2010 Butter Churn Bike Tour 8:00 a.m. Meet at La Farge Village Park

Temple Grandin 1:00 p.m. Word Tent

Beer, Cheese & Chocolate Tasting 4:00 p.m Kickapoo Kitchen Tent

Nanda 4:30 p.m. Prairie Acoustic Stage

Food Fight movie screening with filmmaker Chris Taylor and Congressman Ron Kind 6:00 p.m. Milky Way Café

Miles Nielsen 8:30 p.m. Main Stage

Sunday, July 25, 2010 - FAMILY DAY Kickapoo Country Breakfast 8:00 - 10:00 a.m. Milky Way Café

Michael Perry Reading 11:00 a.m. Word Tent

Michael Perry and The Long Beds 2:00 p.m. Main Stage

ONGOING ACTIVITIES: Kickapoo Kitchen: The heart of the fair, participate in hands-on workshops, learn cooking techniques from chefs, meet Organic Valley farmers and sample free food all weekend long. A tasting of local Wisconsin beers and cheeses will take place in the Kickapoo Kitchen tent late Saturday afternoon.

Green Village Workshops: As part of a partnership with the Kickapoo Green Builders Guild, the Green Village will host workshops and green programming on topics such as the basics of home energy, building sustainable walls and the future of renewable energy sources.

Farming, Gardening, Sustainability Workshops: Learn about Seed Saving, Extending your Gardening Season, True Eco-tourism, How Women are Transforming Sustainability and more.

Children's Activities: Special activities for the young and young-at-heart, include face painting, retro games, ice cream and fruit-slush making, demonstrations on making sand candles with beeswax and storytime.

Sponsor Content


All-access pass to top stories, events and offers around town.

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >