…In The Middle Of The Night!
Or at least that’s how it felt to me, a confirmed non-morning kind of person, when I arrived at the community center at 4:52 a.m. last Thursday, wondering for the millionth time just what in the world it is that people find to enjoy about that hour. It was Annette Volleman who met me and as you might expect, she was laughing a typically Annette kind of laugh as she scurried around, preparing for the huge crowd that has been descending upon this particular breakfast for the past 32 years. I, on the other hand, struggled not to let my early morning personality come forth.
As others began to pour in to help, the work was constant, cutting fruit, filling fruit cups, scrambling eggs, carrying in chests of iced drinks, heating biscuits that several of the ladies had baked the night before, and then serving those who, sure enough, were lined up to eat before there was even a hint of gold in the eastern sky and again, I was amazed to realize that so many tummies realized that it was time to eat…I was barely nursing a cup of black coffee, while more and more I was telling myself that I simply had to find out more about the whys…mainly why anyone would rise at that ungodly hour to cook breakfast…and then give it away for FREE.
It was Annette who I turned to first…but not until after she and the others had served 755 breakfasts!
“The dairy industry is vital to Comanche County, and the Dairy Breakfast is a way for the dairymen and their families to say thank you to the community for its continuous support of the dairy industry. We do the Breakfast every year in June because June is Dairy Month, and we try to incorporate as many dairy products into the breakfast as we can. We cook the eggs with lots of cheese and butter; we bake our biscuit dipped in real butter, and we serve butter as a side on the table. We serve fruit with real whipped cream. We also serve yogurt, ice-cream and of course milk.”
Annette was quick to give credit to those who help with the breakfast.
“Businesses from the area that we dairies do a lot of business with also help us with financial support as well as physically helping with the breakfast. We couldn’t do it without them. The local FFA officers and the 4H members who participate also help us out tremendously.
“Since we don’t hold the Dairy Breakfast at an actual dairy, we really strive to bring the dairy industry to town. We invite the Mobile Dairy Classroom to give a milking presentation towards the end of the Breakfast when all of the summer school children are present. We also bring a few baby calves that our guests can pet and see up close.
“We also give away lots of door prizes. Besides T-shirts, caps, and other gadgets, we also have a large variety of dairy products (different cheeses, yoghurts, milk…). This way some people are introduced to new products that they have never tried before.”
Of course, it is impossible to think of the dairy business in Comanche County without thinking of the Koster family so it was to Michelle Koster that I turned next, asking her for some brief thoughts on the breakfast. It was Michelle who reminded me of something that I had forgotten; the breakfast was actually first hosted at the Willis dairy and was only eventually moved to the community center in order to better accommodate the huge crowd that it draws.
“Back twenty-six years ago when I first became involved with the Dairy Breakfast, I worked with Debbie Johnston, Doylene Evans, and Randi Willis. They believed that we should host the breakfast as a way to give back to the Community that supports us. I agreed with that then and still do. Everyone who participates feels the same way.
“Obviously the community loves the breakfast; every year I get phone calls, texts, and messages asking when it will be. We usually serve between 650 to 750 people, and we have tremendous support from other businesses in the community that just keeps growing. People actually call us to offer their help, and we appreciate that so much. The Dairy Breakfast is a tradition and we all love doing it.”
And then, I turned to one of the youngest members of the breakfast team, Maggie Moerman, who stood and filled more fruit cups than I thought could ever be eaten. Of course, I was wrong! Maggie is one of those kids who has left such a wide mark on the town of Comanche and who is now leaving us behind as she heads of to college in the fall. Filling her shoes will not be easy since she has participated in so, so many civic projects.
On this day, however, I wanted to know about one specific project: the Dairy Breakfast.
“I do this because it’s been a tradition in Comanche since before my parents moved here. We used to have several dairies in our community but now, we only have a few large ones and since I am a child from one of them, this community means a lot to me.
“The dairy breakfast is one of the few ways that our community can see how much we appreciate its support and help.”
And again, we should all be reminded of the fact that small-town Texas cannot thrive without the volunteers who keep things happening. My hat is certainly off to anyone who will get up long before dawn and cook for hundreds of people just to show their appreciation for those who have supported them. Can you just imagine what a wonderful place this would be to live if we all were so generous? GREAT job…but…next year, if I am going to be a helper…could we PLEASE have a Dairy Dinner?