Before the first animals arrive, before check-in, and while some animals are still being prepped for the All-American Dairy Show (AADS), Barbara Ziemba has signs to hang, sponsors to check with and dairy products to sort and store. Ziemba has served as the show’s sponsorship coordinator for six years, working year-round and behind the scenes, to raise funds that make the show a success.
Ziemba was recently honored with the show’s Image Award at the AADS exhibitor appreciation dinner. The award is presented to an individual who has enhanced the image of the All-American Dairy Show through significant contributions to its reputation, prestige and welfare.
“When they first hired me, I had done sponsorship work for the New York Spring Dairy Carousel for three years,” said Ziemba, who more than quadrupled the sponsorship dollars for the New York show in just three years. “I’ve developed good relationships with the agribusiness community. I try to be creative and think outside the box about ways to give sponsors a platform to advertise their business.”
Ziemba arrived several days prior to the opening of the All-American to begin checking banners and making sure everything for the trade show was in place. She also allowed ample time to pack 1,000 welcome bags. “We had a fabulous crew and did it in record time of two hours,” she said, adding that she turned the bag-packing into a game to entice her young volunteers to work steadily until the job was finished. “I have a responsibility to get everything in the bags because the companies sent it.”
A major part of Ziemba’s job is to make sure vendors are happy. “What I promise is going to happen,” she said. “It may be hard but I get it done. I find a way to start a dialogue with the contact person and get them interested. I try to help them think ‘what’s in it for us?”
But instead of trying to hard-sell the show, Ziemba emphasizes the long-term value of the relationships that vendors and other sponsors can develop with exhibitors during the show. “Some people have a misconception that sponsors give money because they like showing cows, but that’s the last thing on their list,” she said. “I tell them (the sponsors) that these people all milk cows at home, and it isn’t about showing cows, it’s about the farm at home, and here’s your opportunity to get your company’s name in front of these people.”
In addition to working with sponsors, vendors and show management, Ziemba makes arrangements for food donations, including plenty of dairy products such as white milk, chocolate milk, yogurt and cheese. Ziemba says the number of youth involved in contests during the All-American means that plenty of food must be ready. For example, this year, 42 teams will participate in the dairy cattle judging contest. “We have to provide lunch for them,” said Ziemba. “It’s expensive to get a caterer, and the only way we can do it is to have sponsors.”
During show week, Ziemba also handles the AADS Barngrazer, a daily newsletter that includes a schedule of daily events, brief articles and upcoming events. Although she leaves the nuts and bolts of the newsletter to an editor, Ziemba is responsible for making sure the daily contents are complete and that sponsors’ ads are included.
Although Ziemba would like to transition her job to another creative person, she realizes that it will take time for someone else to learn all that’s involved. “You have to be organized,” she said. “Most of them (the sponsors) sponsor the same thing each year, but I try to be creative and find more ways to get names out.”
Ziemba is a native of New York, where she and her late husband Steve raised crops and milked registered Holsteins for 27 years. “We milked three times a day,” said Barbara, adding that 3x milking wasn’t common at the time. “It was basically family – my husband, me, our two sons; and we also had international trainees.”
At their Weedsport, NY, farm, the Zeimbas were early adopters of technology to enhance the genetic potential of the best cows in the herd. “We did some of the early IVF,” said Ziemba. “That’s how four bulls of ours went to Japan. We also did embryo transfers.”
The Ziemba family showed dairy cattle locally, as well as at state and large shows including the All-American, Eastern States, Royal Winter Fair, World Dairy Expo and Louisville. Today, Ziemba’s son Kevin coaches the Cornell University dairy cattle judging team and raises dairy cattle, and her son Tim lives in Wisconsin where Barbara recently moved. She maintains ownership of registered Holsteins in both states.
Ziemba is a member of both the New York and Wisconsin Holstein Associations, and served on the New York Holstein Board of Directors for more than 15 years. Her close ties and long-term relationships with agribusinesses, board members and dairy farmers has helped her raise more than $500,000 in cash and donations.
“Sometimes we lose sponsors,” said Ziemba, “but I have good contacts and usually end up with quite a few new sponsors every year.”