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Keep cool with Hilmar Cheese tour and ice cream activity
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A Hilmar Cheese tour guide explains the various uses of milk and the different kinds of cows that produce it. - photo by Journal file photo

During the summer months when temperatures continue to rise, people flock to Hilmar Cheese Company—but surprisingly not for the cheese.


Rather, families and friends make a trip to the company’s visitor center for the summer family tours and ice cream making activity.


“Guests joining our summer tour with the ice cream making activity can expect a fun experience,” said Education and Public Relations Director Denise Skidmore. “Besides the tour, everyone gets a ‘magic’ jar to shake, rattle and roll to make their own individual ice cream sample to eat.”


When Hilmar Cheese Company’s visitor center opened in 1998, the company formalized the tour program. The ice cream making activity was later developed to add a fun science lesson for students about matter changing form.


“It was so popular that we decided to offer it to the public six years ago,” said Skidmore. “With our commitment to education, the school tours and activities are free to public and private school groups.”


During the tour, participants of all ages learn more about how Hilmar Cheese Company produces and packages approximately 1.4 million pounds of cheese every day. Overall, the goal of these tours is to educate and inform consumers about dairy processing and dairy products.

The tour also allows visitors to 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.

Additionally, for guests who want more than just a sample, the visitor center also has an ice cream parlor that features premium local ice cream and fruit smoothies that feature Hilmar Cheese ingredients.

Including school groups, the number of individuals who participate in the summer tours and ice cream making activity can reach upwards of 15,000 a year.

Although the tour is free, visitors can who want to escape the summer heat and join in on the next ice cream making activity can do so for just $3.

Summer family tours and ice cream making activities are offered at 11 a.m. Monday through Friday until Aug. 28. Hilmar Cheese also offers guided tours of the visitor center at 1 p.m. Monday through Friday. Weekend tours are offered year round at 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

Guests are encouraged to sign up 15 minutes early for the tour and ice cream making activity 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.

“It is a fun, ‘cool’ place to visit where you can tour, taste, shop and eat,” said Skidmore, “and we always have free cheese samples of the world’s best cheese!”