By IKE WILSON
The Frederick News-Post
TUSCARORA, Md. (AP) — Opening Maryland’s first ice cream trail was the perfect way to beat this week’s 90-plus degrees in Tuscarora, Maryland Agriculture Secretary Buddy Hance said.
Hance traveled to three creameries, including Rocky Point Creamery in Tuscarora, to officially open Maryland’s Best Ice Cream Trail, which consists of seven farm-based creameries throughout the state.
The new ice cream trail — modeled after Maryland’s wine trails — is the first in the nation to feature dairy farms that produce fresh ice cream and sell it directly to consumers on the farm, Hance said.
Anyone who visits each of the seven creameries before Sept. 7 will have a chance to be named Maryland’s Best 2012 Ice Cream Trailblazer.
The prize? More ice cream, according to the MDA.
“We’re having fun with this in honor of National Dairy Month, while still recognizing the important contributions of Maryland’s 495 dairy farms to our state economy,” Hance said.
He said the goal is to increase the public’s general understanding of what dairy farming is about by encouraging people
to visit a farm, talk to the farmers and taste ice cream that goes from cow to cone in a matter of hours.
“It is a delicious, fresh taste like no other,” Hance said.
Hance had an ice cream cone named “Nutty-Buddy.” The name suited him, dairy farmer Chuck Fry joked, adding it will be the agriculture department’s official ice cream cone.
Hance could visit only three creameries to announce the trail, due to time and distance constraints.
Establishing a trail to highlight one of Maryland’s key economic drivers is important, said Fry, who co-owns Rocky Point Creamery with his wife, Paula, son, Rick, and daughter, Gail Lockard.
As Maryland’s third-largest agricultural commodity, milk and dairy products accounted for more than $182.7 million in farm receipts in 2010, according to the MDA.
“We have wine trails, why not an ice cream trail,” Fry said. “People need to be reminded that milk doesn’t come from a grocery store.”
The ice cream trail encourages people to “come out, check in, and buy local, and with July as National Ice Cream Month, this is the perfect time to do this,” Fry said.
Anyone interested in a being a Trailblazer can pick up a passport at any of the seven participating creameries, or download one online at http://www.marylandsbest.net, and have it stamped at each location.
Completed passports returned to MDA before Sept. 7 will be entered in a drawing for the grand prize, which includes a $50 gift certificate to a favorite creamery along with a copy of “The Maryland Harvest,” a one-hour DVD about Maryland chefs and their partnership with local farmers, and a signed copy of “Dishing Up Maryland,” a cookbook by Lucie Snodgrass.
In addition to the Trailblazer Passport contest, MDA is offering a Maryland’s Best Geocaching Ice Cream Trail.
Geocaching is a sport in which participants using hand-held GPS devices and iPhones to find hidden “caches.”
Information from: The Frederick (Md.) News-Post
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)