(WILLCOX) People of all ages from elementary students to retirees lined up in the sun for free cheeseburgers and ice cream at Coronado Dairy Friday, February 10th.  But the dairy aimed to do more than provide a free lunch at its open house.

“It’s just a way to get them here to see what the dairy’s all about and what we produce,” said Jason Nichols, site manager for the dairy.  “I think it’s an important part of the community here.  We have 112 employees as well as we do work with outside vendors.”

“It’s important for Arizona G&T Cooperatives to provide electricity for us,” he said.  “It makes it possible for us to be here.  For one, I mean, we have all of our shops, our parlor, our pumps out in the field for our farming are electric, and our pivots depend on electricity.”

The cows of Coronado Farms are visible from Kansas Settlement Road south of Willcox.

Nichols said that the dairy has 6500 milking cows and an additional 55,000 for breeding and other purposes.  And he listed a variety of functions at the dairy that depend on electricity, from the machinery used to milk the cows to the agriculture needed to feed them.

“This is a big deal,” said Jim Ellison, who visited the dairy with his wife, Nancy.  “We were quite surprised to hear they milk 6500 cows a day here.”

The couple has lived in Sierra Vista for more than 30 years and they are members of Sulphur Springs Valley Electric Cooperative.  They also highlighted the importance of SSVEC and AzGT in the region, from the electricity they provide to the employment that power creates.

“It offers a lot of opportunity for people that, you just wouldn’t have it, I don’t think, if it wasn’t for you folks,” Jim Ellison said.  “We’re really happy that Arizona G&T Cooperatives is in this area.  Thank you.”

“Sulphur Springs, we’ve worked closely with them, and G&T Cooperatives, so, it’s been good.  We’ve expanded a lot with them,” Nichols said.

People of all ages line up for free cheeseburgers, chips and ice cream at the Coronado Dairy open house.

He said that he enjoys living in rural Arizona and his work at the dairy.  A few thousand people were expected at the open house.

“The favorite part for me is, I’m in Operations a lot, so I get to work with the people, and that’s really great for me.  I love working with the people,” Nichols said.  “It looks like a lot of people turned out for this.”