MYAKKA CITY — The Dakin Dairy family on Saturday opens Manatee County's newest venture into agri-tourism, taking its place alongside visitor-friendly Mixon Fruit Farms and Hunsader Farms.
Thursday evening, more than 600 invited guests turned out for a sneak peek at the working dairy in East Manatee.
They ate barbecued pork under moss-draped oaks, toured the farm store, got a look at a hay tunnel and a nine-acre corn maze, and watched goats climb into trees.
While the adults lined up at the food tent, many of the youngsters were too busy with other attractions to give barbecue much thought.
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Kylee Prince, a little girl with bright blue eyes, freckles and red hair, bounded off a large mound of sand, went through the hay maze and was looking forward to taking a ride on the cow train.
Pete and Anita Thorpe, of Bradenton, were among those who visited the dairy Thursday night.
"We were out here a few weeks ago and the changes are tremendous," Anita Thorpe said.
Robert Zeliff, of Manatee Fruit Company, was another of the guests who turned out for the special event.
"It's impressive," Zeliff said, adding that his company has periodically discussed entering the agri-tourism business.
Karen Dakin beamed as she watched hundreds of guests arriving.
"I'm proudest to be able to set this up to give people a good look at what dairy farming is all about," Karen Dakin said.
Only three working dairies remain in Manatee County.
If you go What: Dakin Dairy Farms, 30771 Betts Road, Myakka CityWhen: Starting Saturday at 10 a.m. Afterwards, 5-10 p.m. Fridays, 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturdays, and2-6 p.m. Sundays.Information: 322-2802 or www.DakinDairyFarms.comCost: Basic attractions $5; corn maze $4; farm tours $4; combo ticket $12.