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Escape the room, save the cows at Hilmar Cheese
Participants celebrate after participating in the AgXscape Room at the Hilmar Cheese Company’s Visitor Center. - photo by Photo Contributed

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to work on a farm?

Hilmar Cheese Company is giving guests the chance, plus some additional challenges, thanks to its new AgXscape Room — the first of its kind in the United States, according to the corporation.

Visitors to the AgXscape Room are thrust into the middle of a severe situation involving a “virus” that is threatening to infect the cows at the dairy. Similar to other popular escape rooms, participants must quickly follow instructions to find clues, locate the vaccines and save the cows, all within 30 minutes.

“People walk into the dairy farmer’s office, get to do a bunch of activities that the farmer would usually do and hopefully they can get the vaccines out of the locked inventory cabinet,” education and public relations director Denise Skidmore said. “Everyone has to talk to each other and work together, and they have to figure out and come up with different ideas.”

While Hilmar Cheese Company’s Visitor Center has offered tours of the facility and ice cream making opportunities for years, complete with interactive, hands-on exhibits about cows, dairies and cheesemaking, Skidmore explained that the new ag-themed escape room was born from a desire to provide fun for adolescents.

“We have a really great program for all audiences, and people enjoy making ice cream, but we really didn’t have something that teenagers would enjoy,” she said. “This is a great way to interest them in dairy.”

Geared toward adults and children nine and older, groups solve clues by doing things that would typically keep a dairy farmer busy during the day, like dealing with different types of feed, examining the quality of milk under a microscope, making breeding decisions and more.

“Dairy farmers wear a zillion different hats, so we tried to have a lot of those things that they do in the room for people to try.”
Denise Skidmore

“Dairy farmers wear a zillion different hats, so we tried to have a lot of those things that they do in the room for people to try,” Skidmore said.

To Skidmore’s knowledge, the AgXscape Room is the first agriculture- and dairy-themed escape room in the country, joining the abundance of rooms popping up across the nation that deliver an adrenaline-packed time period of teamwork, communication, determination and a sense of urgency to find clues, decipher puzzles and solve activities to complete a challenge.

While the same in nature, the AgXscape Room has many aspects that set it apart from the typical rooms found locally. The room isn’t frightening, as some escape rooms can be, and the dairy farm challenges are stimulating even for the most experienced escapees.

“There are items in there that are dairy-focused that definitely can’t be found in other rooms,” Skidmore said.

The room is designed for two to six players, Skidmore said, and while those over nine years old may be able to better understand most of the puzzles, even younger family members can contribute. Ages 14 and older can play in groups on their own, making it a great activity for teens in 4-H, FFA, youth group and others, Skidmore said.

The fee is $15 per person for the 30-minute challenge, or you can book a private event room for a discounted price of $60 for up to six people. Reservations can be made online at www.hilmarcheese.com/agxscape