The Divine Dairy Affair experience begins with the stories behind each of our partners. Each one brings a unique connection to dairy farming and adds to Pennsylvania’s agricultural heritage. Read more about their stories below as they share their passion for food and the products they produce with us.
Culture Magazine: Lassa Skinner
Thalassa (Lassa) Skinner is co-founder & owner of the general consumer cheese magazine Culture, now in its 9th year (sold nationwide). She caught the cheese bug 25 years ago and earned her chops at Formaggio Kitchen in Cambridge, MA – as well as in restaurant kitchens across the Boston region.
In 1999, she headed west and settled in the Napa Valley, where she started a cheese program at Tra Vigne’s wine bar, managed the St. Helena Farmers Market, opened the Oxbow Cheese Merchant in downtown Napa, co-authored Cheese For Dummies (John Wiley & Sons, May 2012) – and started Culture. Let’s just say…it has been a busy but exciting evolution.
Lassa is passionate about spreading the love of cheese across the US and beyond, judging cheese and teaching at venues across the country and overseas as well as partnering with chefs, wineries, breweries and all things food-centric. Always happiest behind a counter, Culture recently launched cheese events under Lassa’s capable hands, both for industry and for cheese lovers.
Join Lassa during a special VIP Dairy Pairing session she will lead with Jim St. John, senior fellow with the Hershey Company, prior to the main event, featuring Hershey’s chocolate brands that pair well with local cheeses. Learn more.
Lassa will also lead mini cheese tasting sessions during the main Divine Dairy Affair event, with artisan cheese makers representing the Pennsylvania Cheese Guild.
Harvest View Barn at Hershey Farms: Marc Hershey
Lancaster County farmland has a relaxing quality for visitors. That enjoyment will only increase for first time guests to Harvest View Barn at Hershey Farms as they drive back the lane and the rural scene unfolds in front of them.
“Our family has a rich heritage of farmers. Both sets of my grandparents were born and raised on farms,” said Marc Hershey, co-owner and operator of the business.”In 1978, my parents purchased the farm from my grandparents that my mother grew up on and in 2015, my wife and I became partners alongside my parents.”
The farm’s bank barn, built in the late 1800’s, was restored in 2014 as a popular wedding and event venue. The family continues to operate the working farm with the added event venue. Guests to the Divine Dairy Affair will see fields of corn, wheat and soybeans along with barns housing hogs and chickens.
“I have enjoyed the opportunity to help connect agriculture with guests visiting our property, who otherwise may have never been exposed to farming,” said Marc. “Certainly we anticipate sharing our property with those attending the Divine Dairy Affair, but it’s also an opportunity to help remind people of how agriculture connects with our everyday lives.”
Join us on September 20 to meet the Hershey family and visit a working farm in Lancaster County!
The Hershey Company: Jim St. John
Fresh, dairy milk has always been essential to The Hershey Company’s business dating back to its earliest days.
In the late 1800s, founder Milton Hershey learned an important process for making candy that held the key to his future success. A Denver confectioner taught Hershey how to make caramels with fresh milk. Fresh milk would be his destiny.
After selling his Lancaster, Pa., caramel company in 1900, Hershey set out to conquer the confectionery world through chocolate. But not just any chocolate – milk chocolate made with fresh Pennsylvania milk.
Access to abundant sources of fresh milk is why Hershey decided to locate his new chocolate business and factory in the farm fields of rural Derry Church, Pennsylvania, (later to be called Hershey) even before there was a town. People thought he was crazy to build his factory out in the middle of nowhere, but Hershey knew that he had chosen well. The adjacent dairy lands would provide a high grade of milk that was a key to making his milk chocolate world famous.
Today, fresh dairy milk is every bit as important to The Hershey Company as is was in the early 20th century. Fresh milk is what continues to give the iconic milk chocolate its delicious taste.
Every day, trucks pick up tens of thousands of gallons of fresh milk from local dairy farms within 100 miles of the factory in Hershey, Pa., and deliver it to the plant so that it can become part of Hershey’s delicious milk chocolate. More than 17,000 cows are milked each day to supply the fresh milk for Hershey’s Milk Chocolate.
Once the milk arrives, it is blended with cane sugar, pasteurized and condensed until it reaches a taffy-like consistency. Then it’s mixed with unsweetened chocolate to make the iconic Hershey’s Milk Chocolate.
Join Hershey’s Senior Fellow Jim St. John, who will lead mini chocolate tastings during the Divine Dairy Affair. Jim will join Lassa Skinner from The Culture Magazine to lead a one-hour VIP Dairy Pairing session prior to the main event, featuring Hershey’s chocolate brands that pair well with local cheeses. Learn more.
And remember, the next time you bite into a Hershey’s Milk Chocolate bar and marvel at how delicious it tastes, it’s the milk.
The JDK Group: Brian Nailor
The JDK Group is Central Pennsylvania’s premier catering and events company, with a 30-year history of providing full-service catering, floral design and décor, and event management services. Brian Nailor serves at the Culinary Production Supervisor for the JDK Group and is a lead chef within the organization. His career path in the food industry began in high school when he studied culinary arts at a vocational technical school. He spent 12 years working with family-owned restaurants and has earned his associate’s degree from the York Technical Institute.
Brian was raised on a dairy farm in southcentral Pennsylvania and believes he brings a unique approach to his culinary expertise, having worked with food from the ground to the plate, which pairs well with today’s current trend of farm to table. He enjoys working in the food industry because he can share his talents and creativity through his food preparation and continue to be a supplier of food as a farmer. He enjoys working with JDK because of the different mindset they bring to the food and catering industry. Every day is unique, he says, and the interaction with guests and clients is immeasurable.
Enjoy a menu of locally-produced foods prepared with the culinary expertise of Brian and the team at The JDK Group during the Divine Dairy Affair.
Jonathan Frazier: Artist and Musician
Jonathan Frazier grew up in Dillsburg PA, and was accepted into the Harrisburg Arts Magnet School his senior year. He went on to study at the Maryland Institute, College of Art, then to Kutztown University, where he received his BFA. He served 4 years in the Air Force before returning to the Harrisburg area where he has made his living as an artist and performing musician. He is often commissioned for pen & ink architectural renderings. He is primarily known for his vibrantly colored landscape paintings.
Jonathan feels it’s important to support local and regional farms as sources of healthy whole foods. Fresh produce and dairy are part of his diet, which avoids heavily processed foods. He is looking forward to perhaps learning a bit more about the process behind where his food comes from. The barn setting is also an attraction, and an appropriate fit for the agrarian theme.
Jonathan will share his variety of musical stylings to lend to the welcoming ambiance of the affair. In addition to keyboard, he’ll bring along additional instruments both familiar and exotic to entertain guests. He is also a professional visual artist, having exhibited his work at various galleries and museums. He will be contributing an original oil painting for the silent auction portion of the event.
Karns Quality Foods
In 1959, David Karns opened the first Karns Food store, welcoming customers as individuals with individual needs. More than 50 years later, Karns Foods is still family owned and operated, with eight locations throughout Cumberland, Perry and Dauphin County. Karns Foods is proud to support the dairy industry as we recognize it is not only a critical component of our stores but of Pennsylvania agriculture. It has a rich history that we are excited to be a part of.
Karns Foods is looking forward to offering classic Pennsylvania sweet treats at the Divine Dairy event – all fresh baked and handmade at Karns! Event goers can look forward to enjoy peach pies (with peaches farmed in Central PA), a traditional PA Dutch lemon sponge pie, shoe fly pie treats and of course whoopie pies!
Kate McGraw: Featured Artist
Kate McGraw is a visual artist working in mixed media, combining modalities of drawing, painting, installation and performance. Her expansive body of work honors the passage of time and sense of place that is testament to her appreciation and reverence for Pennsylvania farmland and agriculture.
Kate’s love for dairy farming was born on her uncle’s and grandfather’s small family-run dairy farms in the rolling pastureland of Wayne County, Pennsylvania. Both of Kate’s parents grew up on dairy farms, so dairying was a family affair. Many summers were spent closely watching the rhythms of the weather, lending a hand during haying season and helping with the maintenance of historic barns. For Kate, nothing in this world compared to the taste of her family’s farm fresh milk, which was produced for ice cream and butter. The smell of fresh cut Timothy-grass still stirs memories of a wonderful childhood spent romping through wide open fields. Kate’s admiration for the hard work, playful humor and dedication of her farming family lives on through her art and advocacy work.
Farm-to-table cuisine has been a way of life for Kate’s family for generations and she continues to tend prolific vegetable gardens with diverse heirloom varieties. Kate is passionate about sustainable living, incorporating composting, vermiculture and organic growing methods into her gardening repertoire. At harvest time, Kate enjoys drawing from family recipes and traditional methods for fermenting and preserving fruits and vegetables to capture summer’s bounty.
Moxie Media and Marketing: Lisa Perrin Dubravec
Lisa Perrin Dubravec grew up on a dairy farm in upstate New York. “I was involved in 4-H, showing livestock and dairy cows, as well as being a county dairy princess,” Lisa said, describing her childhood interests. After graduating from Cornell University, Lisa started her career in agriculture, working directly with dairy farmers and consumers helping to bridge the gap between the farm and the table.
Currently, Lisa is employed with a boutique marketing agency, Moxie Media and Marketing, as an account manager. “We represent several agriculture organizations and are proud to help them connect consumers to their food,” Lisa said. Moxie Media and Marketing are the marketing partners for the Divine Dairy Affair event. Lisa gains satisfaction from her job because “farmers are the most amazing people – a diverse group who have so many specialized skills required to be successful in producing food.” She believes the role of farmers can’t be ignored in our lives. “The meals we cook or enjoy with our families are directly tied to farmers,” Lisa explained. “And it’s important to me that each person understands where and how that food ended up on the table.”
Moxie Media and Marketing is pleased to offer support to the Center for Dairy Excellence Foundation in managing and promoting the Divine Dairy Affair. “We know it is going to be a moo-valous event! I am most excited about the V.I.P. Dairy Pairings event,” Lisa exclaimed. “Lassa and Jim are incredibly knowledgeable about cheese and chocolate, and the pairings they have chosen are exciting, and of course, delicious!”
Pennsylvania Dairymen's Association: Dave Smith
For more than 20 years, Dave has been leading the programs of the Pennsylvania Dairymen’s Association as the executive director. “Our work allows me to connect with consumers through the sale of Dairymen’s milkshakes at the Pennsylvania Farm Show,” Dave explained. The Dairymen’s Association supports agriculture education and youth development programs across Pennsylvania.
As a fourth generation farmer, Dave grew up on a dairy farm in Lebanon County. Upon graduation from Virginia Tech, Dave returned home to work with his father and brother on the family dairy farm. Farm ownership transitioned to Dave and currently, he co-manages the family farm with his son, Joel, growing crops and raising young cows.
“As a farmer, seeing things grow and develop has fueled my passion to be a part of the agriculture and food industry,” Dave said. “I like to see calves grow into adult cows and produce milk and I love to see seeds germinate and pop out of the ground in an orderly row, planted by the farmer.”
Dave is looking forward to meeting everyone at the Divine Dairy Affair. “I am excited about the Divine Dairy Affair because it is a great opportunity to meet and network with people with diverse backgrounds,” Dave said. “The highest quality local foods will be served and we are honored to have our Dairymen’s milkshakes be part of this awesome event.”
Get your tickets today for the Divine Dairy Affair to meet Dave and enjoy a famous Farm Show milkshake in September!
Pennsylvania Dairy Princesses: Halee, Brittany and Katie
Meet the Pennsylvania Dairy Princess state royalty team at the Divine Dairy Affair. Halee Wasson of Centre County was crowned the 60th Pennsylvania Dairy Princess in October 2016 and is finishing up her year-long reign, along with her alternates Brittany Haag of Berks County and Katie Anderson of Huntingdon County.
These girls competed against dairy princesses representing counties throughout Pennsylvania to be selected to represent the statewide dairy industry. They have spent the last year promoting the importance of dairy products and dairy farms to civic organizations, school groups and at events across the state.
Halee is from a fifth-generation dairy farm and hopes to use her never-ending passion for the dairy industry in a future career in agriculture and extension education. Currently, Brittany is an assistant manager at a local farmer’s market and enjoys working with growers to provide fresh food to consumers. She hopes to continue to educate consumers on the benefits of supporting home grown foods in her future career. Katie says her role as a dairy princess has helped raise awareness of the importance of a healthy diet and better health. All three are looking forward to visiting with the guests at the Divine Dairy Affair and sharing their story with them.
Learn more about Halee, Brittany and Katie’s experiences as Pennsylvania Dairy Princess and Alternates during the Divine Dairy Affair.
Susan Nicholas Gephart: Artist
Susan Nicholas Gephart is donating an original landscape artwork to the silent auction benefiting the Center Foundation at the Divine Dairy Affair. Susan is a professional artist and instructor who has been painting award-winning landscapes for forty years in Central PA. The majority of her works are created on location, or “en plein air”, and many include views from Susan’s travels to places such as Assateague and Chincoteague Islands, Cape May, NJ, Monterey, California, Santa Fe, NM, and Mount Desert Island, Maine.
Susan’s deep appreciation of the earth and art began as a young child, and can be seen in her colorful, impressionistic plein air pastels and oils. The seeds of her artistic inspirations came from hiking the woodlands and creeks by her family farmhouse, outside of Philadelphia. Her determination to be an artist came from growing up with 5 brothers who challenged her, a father who shared his love of art and travel, and a mother who encouraged her independence through painting. Susan balanced raising three children while building her art career. Today, her passion to explore the landscape is expressed through a unique use of color, texture, and atmosphere, which captures the emotion of a moment in time on canvas.
Susan has been organizing artist retreats at Hameau Farm in Belleville, PA, for almost 20 years and is a founding member of the Farmland Preservation Artists of Central Pennsylvania.Through her art, Susan wishes to bring attention to the importance of agriculture and its relationship to man. She is looking forward to the event as an opportunity to share her artwork and spread the word about the Farmland Preservation Artists.
You can view Susan’s portfolio at www.snicholasart.com or see her art, which will be available for purchase at the Divine Dairy Affair.
Thomas Herr: Dairy Farmer and Artist
Thomas Herr is a seventeen-year-old chalk artist who has been drawing ever since he was ten years old. He has presented chalk talks across Pennsylvania and incorporates the sights and sounds of Pennsylvania dairy farms into his presentations. Thomas is the oldest of four children, and his family owns and operates a dairy farm in Chester County, Pennsylvania, with 130 milk cows and 200 acres of corn, alfalfa, wheat and soybeans. He started milking cows when he was eight years old and has helped with other chores on the farm. He also enjoys playing piano and walking his dog, Vester.
Ever since he can remember, Thomas has had a passion for drawing and for the dairy farm. Having those two passions come together in the Divine Dairy Affair is exciting for Thomas, who feels his chalk drawing, which will be a live rendering presented at the event, will illustrate the heart of the dairy farmer. His experiences on the farm have taught him what the life of the dairy farmer is like. He is excited to share that with those who come to the Divine Dairy Affair.
Turkey Hill Dairy
Turkey Hill Dairy of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, began as a dairy farm over 80 years ago, where Armor Frey and his family began making ice cream with their extra milk and sharing it with their neighbors. Since then, the Dairy has witnessed great changes but remains true to the products and recipes created by its founder.
Today, Turkey Hill Dairy is the fourth largest-selling premium ice cream in the nation and the #1 ice cream in Pennsylvania. The research and development team at Turkey Hill Dairy tries new things, but not for the sake of being new. Its products are inspired by simple, wholesome and delicious flavors, but they also recognize that today’s consumers have diverse tastes and dietary needs. That’s why they continue to innovate and listen to our customers.
The company believes part of its corporate responsibility is to be a good steward of its resources, community, and the world, and is actively defining and implementing green initiatives to cut down on waste, reduce packaging, and minimize outputs into the environment. To put its core values of sustainability into practice, Turkey Hill even generates 25 percent of the Dairy’s annual electricity needs by harnessing wind power through its own wind turbines located onsite at the Dairy overlooking the Susquehanna River.
Enjoy Turkey Hill’s All Natural Vanilla Ice Cream and new Whole Milk Chocolate Milk as part of the Divine Dairy Affair, while getting your picture taken with the giant Turkey Hill cow and hearing Turkey Hill’s story directly from their employees.