Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Illinois: Obama Visits Dairy Cow Contest At Whiteside County Fair

President makes "surprise visit" to Morrison...

On the way to his town hall in Atkinson, Illinois this morning, President Obama made a "surprise stop" to work in some face time with thrilled voters and championship livestock. He spent about 50 minutes greeting people and checking out the dairy cow competition at the Whiteside County Fair in Morrison. (Above: The President with new friends and one of the competition cows)

"I'm probably not the guy to judge this stuff," President Obama said several times, as he walked around the show ring and looked at the lovely diary cows.

The gals getting the Presidential scrutiny were Ayershire, Brown Swiss and other breeds. The annual Ag fest in the President's adopted home state was established in 1870, and opened for business yesterday. Arriving at 9:59 AM local time, President Obama was greeted by a happy crowd, and he moved among them.

"Good to see you," President Obama said as he greeted locals.

The judging to name a dairy queen had already started at the Ed Brandt Dairy Barn when the President arrived. The cows were unperturbed by both the heavy Secret Service presence and the members of the media climbing over each other for good visuals.

"I didn't mean to cause such a fuss," the President said.

Inside the dairy barn, the President posed for pictures with kids and spoke at length to several people, including Norma Haan, 68, of Morrison, whose husband recently entered a nursing home with dementia and other complications, according to pool. (Above: In the dairy barn)

The President gave her a long hug at the conclusion of their conversation.

"He said it was a difficult transition, and it is," Mrs. Haan said of her conversation with the President, adding that they spoke about health-care issues.

At the rope line on the way out of the fair, the President signed autographs and shook hands. Some children held out dollar bills for him to sign, an appropriate symbol, since his bus tour through the heartland is all about the economy. One man stuffed a piece of paper in the breast pocket of the President's shirt, which would be hard to believe if there wasn't a photo of the overly-close contact (above).

The motorcade was rolling for Atkinson by 10:50 AM local time, and the President arrived at Wyffels Hybrids at 11:42 AM.

As the motorcade entered the town, State Street was lined with hundreds of American flags on light poles on both sides of the street. The same scene greeted the President on Henry Street, with hundreds of people lining the route and clapping. The White House noted on its blog that 1,000 flags were donated to decorate the town by one excited local citizen; the town has 1,100 residents.

One man held a sign that said, "I skipped Da Bears to see Da Prez."

*Getty photos, except for barn photo; that's by Pete Souza/White House

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