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Celebrate ice cream and all things dairy with Hilmar Cheese
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Hilmar Cheese's Ana Parada explains the various uses of milk and the different kinds of cows that produce it during the companys ice cream tour. - photo by CANDY PADILLA/The Journal

If the cheese wasn’t enough to lure guests to Hilmar Cheese Company already, the visitor center is now offering family tours and an ice cream making activity in honor of National Ice Cream Month.

Offered at 11 a.m. Monday through Friday until Aug. 29, these public tours allow participants to learn more about how Hilmar Cheese Company produces and packages approximately 1.4 million pounds of cheese every day. It also lets visitors interact with various exhibits that give them a better understanding of dairy cows and how the factory works, and, perhaps most importantly, teaches guests how to make their own ice cream.

Roman Dabranca, 8, joined in on the tour in order to escape the hot summer day with his family. When asked what his favorite part of making his own ice cream was, Dabranca could not narrow his decision down to one aspect.

“I liked the whole ice cream making process,” he said, “I did not know that you use salt and ice to make ice cream.”

The ice cream was a favorite amongst the younger crowd. Five-year-old Violet Wagner took a moment to decide what her favorite part of the tour was and finally settled on the ice cream making activity. “Because I got to eat it,” Wagner admitted.

Besides the ice cream, she also mentioned that she enjoyed learning more about how Hilmar Cheese Company produces the cheese that makes it so popular.

The cheese company’s tour is not just for children. Patti Cornejo and Betty Daldegan, out-of-state visitors from Colorado, joined in on the tour fun to find something to do while they were in the area. Cornejo and Daldegan both agreed that their favorite part of the tour was learning about the cheese and seeing how it was processed, although they enjoyed the ice cream making aspect as well.

Karessa Mast, Hilmar Cheese Company’s communications and tour specialist, said the tours started out for class field trips, but general interest from the community prompted the company to open it up to the public.

Mast said the goal of these tours is to educate and inform consumers about dairy processing and dairy products. For just $3, visitors can escape the summer heat and join in on the next tour to properly celebrate National Ice Cream Month with Hilmar Cheese Company. Guests are encouraged to sign up 15 minutes early at the Peet’s Coffee and & Tea Espresso counter located inside the building. The Hilmar Cheese Visitors Center is located at 9001 N. Lander Ave., Hilmar. Hours are 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. For more information, call 656-1196.