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INK opens dairy exhibit featuring fiberglass cow
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Sheri Hooper, the Interactive Neighborhood for Kids founder and executive director, gauges the level of excitement for the barn exhibit, which features a fiberglass cow that can be milked. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

The children didn’t have to be told twice they could explore the new dairy exhibit at Gainesville’s Interactive Neighborhood for Kids.

As soon as officials cut the cord as part of a dedication ceremony Sunday, the youngsters swarmed the exhibit containing the barn-like structure, silo and bales of hay.

Soon, they were yanking the udders of “Buttercup,” the exhibit’s newly named fiberglass cow, which — the kids aren’t told — squirts water into a sponge-filled bucket.

“I think it’s awesome,” said 9-year-old Saylor Sniatecki of Gainesville. “I like the cow and how you can milk it.”

Sheri Hooper, founder and executive director of the children’s museum at 999 Chestnut St., said the exhibit “is just another learning component for kids of all ages.”

The ceremony featured media and officials from the dairy industry, including the Southeast United Dairy Industry Association, plus the snapping cameras of parents and other onlookers.

The museum opened the exhibit to less fanfare last week.

“We had as many adults wanting to milk the cow as the kids, because they had never been able to do that,” Hooper said.
The exhibit had its start in a visit by the dairy association to the museum two years ago.

The group was scouting potential sites in the Southeast to feature the milking cow, Hooper said.

About 1 1/2 years later, INK learned it had been selected.

“We have a long list of names that have helped us make this happen,” Hooper said.

Visitors also can see a smaller fiberglass cow, named “Milky Way,” inside the barn and sit down to watch a DVD “about the milk process from the cow to the school cafeteria,” Hooper said.

The museum plans to later add a donated tractor to the exhibit.

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