The History of Milk Days™

In the beginning
“Milk Center of the World”
On Thursday, June 18, 1942, 3,000 men, women and children gathered at the intersection of Ayer and Brainard streets to pay tribute to the local dairy farmers. There were speeches, singing, baton twirlers , dancers and drinking of 500 gallons of milk. Thus begun the first annual Harvard Milk Day™s Festival which has since turned into the longest running hometown festival in the state of Illinois. “It is only right and natural that Harvard should honor the producers who have made it the “Milk Center of the World.” said program chairman Charles A Minot in 1943. “This Milk Day will be much more than the glorified picnic it started out to be”. Each year the crowds increased and by 1945 over 10,000 people were in attendance. 1945  was also the first fundamental change with the festival moving to Mary’s Park and the first Queens Coronation. 1946 Harvard Milk Day™s saw its first parade. Louis Simonini founded the parade which featured 36 entries and traveled from the Five Points to Mary’s Park. 1947 brought the first marching band contest and the parade has included marching bands from all over each year since.
1948 Harvard Milk Day™s moved from Mary’s Park to the Speedway which was on the South end of Ayer Street across Rt 173. Here it stayed until 1958 when the festival moved to the North side of town.
1949 brought the first whitewashing dubbed “Milky Way” to Ayer Street a tradition still carried out today.
1954 saw a big change when Milk Days™ moved from a Thursday to a Saturday and in 1955 it became a Friday and Saturday affair. 1980 Harvard Milk Days™ Festival became a full-fledged Friday-Saturday- Sunday event.
Harvard Milk Day™s Festival is made possible by all the hard work and time all the Chairmen and Committee members dedicate each year, and by the generosity of the many sponsors the Festival has. Harvard Milk Days™ is made a success by all the thousands of you who come every year to pay tribute to our dairy farmers and to enjoy yourself at the many events leading up to and including the fun filled 3 day festival.
 Thank you!


The honoring of our dairy industry is still the foundation for the festival, but today huge crowds continue to come to Harvard the first weekend in June to enjoy the parade, milk, food, rides, games, shopping and entertainment, cattle show and much more. What started out with 3,000 people at the intersection of Ayer and Brainard streets has grown to well over 30, 000 and is held on the Milky Way Park grounds.


Harmilda is the fiberglass cow that sits at the Five Points since 1966. Robert Jones of Jones Packing Co. presented Harmilda as a gift and she has since become our town mascot. Her name is from the words Harvard Milk Days. Harmilda’s name came about in 1970 after Dorothy Mathews and Josie Smith won the” Name the Five Points Cow Contest”.

1st Milk Day Queen

Norma Garrett of Harvard was elected the 1st Harvard Milk Day Queen in 1945.
“One of my outstanding memories is of sitting in a huge wooden milk bottle, waiting for my cue to kick out the door of the milk bottle and emerge as Harvard’s First Milk Queen.”
-Norma (Garrett) Wittmus, Norma reenacts her Milk Queen debut for a photographer. Until the tradition ended in 1983, each year the queen would emerge from the huge milk bottle or a huge milk carton .