Located between the Producers building and Legionburger stand, the Milk Barn has become a Putnam County Fair icon, serving thousands through the years. Almost as much of an icon is the Milk Barn Manager Virgil Arnold. Along with other volunteers that mainly consist of members of the Putnam County Farm Bureau, Arnold helps to keep fair-goers hydrated through the hot week.
From what Arnold has been told, milk used to be sold at Harris Hall and then the Industrial Tent for 5 cents a cup. The actual Milk Barn was constructed around 40 years ago. The Milk Barn has been in its present location for as long as Arnold can remember.
Arnold took over as Milk Barn manager in 1990, and has held the position ever since. "My job is to basically open and close it," Arnold said. "I try to open around 8 a.m. and close it around 10 p.m."
The milk is purchased from Prairie Farms as well as the coolers and milk dispensers. Each morning, workers from Prairie Farms check the coolers and refill what is needed.
Customers have their choice of white and chocolate milk, but it's pretty obvious which is favored by most fair-goers.
"Oh, we definitely sell more chocolate," Arnold laughed. "Everyone wants the chocolate."
Chocolate milk is such a favorite that the milk dispenser has four chocolate milk dispensers as opposed to only two white.
When asked why he's worked the Milk Barn for so many years and continues to do so, Arnold said, "Well, it does wear on you sometimes, but I enjoy meeting the different people. I've even seen two generations of people that I've served. People will bring up their children and tell them that that's where they used to buy milk when they were their age."
Arnold says that he plans to continue working the Milk Barn as long he's able, or unless they find someone else to take the position.