These cows are particularly happy because they know their milk is heading to the little town of LeMars and will soon become part of the 250,000 gallons of ice cream made here each day.
LeMars is the home of Wells Blue Bunny Ice Cream, makers of 100 million gallons of ice cream per year. They also make or use 8 million pounds of melted chocolate to coat ice cream bars and 1.5 billion little sticks for ice cream novelties.
This particular quest is not for the lactose intolerant. If you tend to dribble your ice cream cone, pack a few extra clean shirts or a bib.
Seeing how all that ice cream is made and walking through really, really cold deep freezers during a tour of the Blue Bunny factory is a highlight of visiting LeMars, Iowa.
As the official Ice Cream Capital of the World (according to the Iowa legislature), it is the responsibility of the town’s 9,852 residents to host the National Ice Cream Festival, this year June 18-21.
Throughout the festival, there are ice cream socials and contests for creating new flavors of ice cream. Various combinations of cherry and strawberry continue to be popular, but legend has it that one entry attempted a fish-flavored ice cream. It did not win a prize.
Throughout the years, festival organizers have attempted to set a Guinness World Record for the largest ice cream sundae, with a free spoon for everyone in attendance, but the public health department didn’t share the same enthusiasm for 10,000 people eating from the same dish of ice cream.
Instead, they give away hundreds of gallons of all flavors of Blue Bunny ice cream at all sorts of events. There are parades and concerts, 5K runs and fishing derbies, shows of art and vintage cars, plus a coloring contest of, you guessed it, blue bunnies. Note: coloring outside the lines is OK, but it’s gotta be some shade of blue.
Frozen slushies, Cool Tubes Jolly Ranchers, sherbets and Bubble Gum bars are as welcome as the more traditional stuff on a hot summer day in the Ice Cream Capital of the World, as long as they have a blue bunny on the wrapping.
Based in Kansas City, Missouri, and an officer in the Society of American Travel Writers, Diana loves the Midwest and all things quirky and unusual about our world. Follow her on Twitter at @Mojotraveler.
MORE SUMMER TRAVEL QUESTS
8) Get an Ice Cream Headache at the National Ice Cream Festival