Dan Young may be known as the Chief Ice Cream Dipper at Young’s Dairy, but he’ll tell you it’s far from a one-man job.
With nearly 80,000 gallons of ice cream made on site every year, there’s a lot of scooping going on at the Yellow Springs operation. In fact, the dairy offers 100 different flavors over the course of the season. Top sellers range from chocolate peanut butter and Cow Patty (double dark chocolate, toffee, chocolate chips and chocolate cookies) to seasonal favorites like pumpkin and cinnamon.
That’s a lot of tasty decisions for customers to make, and ice cream is only one of the attractions at this popular Ohio agritourism destination. The third- generation farm operation is open to visitors year-round. It includes an animal visiting area with 25 goats and other farm animals and Udders & Putters, a farm- themed miniature golf course. Depending on the season, visitors can also enjoy the pick-your-own pumpkin patch, a corn maze and wagon rides.
“Our goal is to pay attention to what people want as part of the experience of visiting our farm, and to be sure they can find it here,” Young says. “We want to be true to our tradition as a family farm and still respond to what the customers want in terms of dining and family entertainment. We also want to educate young people about growing crops and where their food comes from, so we conduct tours for 10,000 to 14,000 youngsters from pre-K through second grade every year.”
The 1.2 million people who visit Young’s Dairy each year also enjoy its on-site restaurant with country-style dining – along with the cheese served there. Made on the farm from the milk produced by the Young’s herd of 30 Jersey cows, the cheddar, colby, baby Swiss and pepper jack varieties are restaurant staples.
Young explains that of the 44,000 pounds of cheese they make each year, half is sold as curds. The dairy’s deep-fried cheese curds are second only to french fries in popularity as a restaurant side dish.
Sweetapple Farm in Vincent has a similar mission, providing fun while educating families about agriculture. Visitors can enjoy the farm animal center, the corn maze, hayrides, and special fall farm activities. They can also shop for beef and pork products raised on the farm and can pick berries and select pumpkins among also hosts overnight farm stays so families can experience farm life firsthand. And for couples who want a country wedding, the farm can accommodate that, too.
Young’s Dairy and Sweetapple Farm are just two examples of many agritourism destinations across the state.
“Agritourism meets visitors’ needs for fun, affordable, family-oriented entertainment,” says David Goodman, director of the Ohio Development Services Agency.
And those needs are growing. Tamara Brown, public relations manager for Tourism Ohio, says there is increased interest from farm entities that are implementing activities and want to include them in the DiscoverOhio.com database.
“Like any other tourism entity in Ohio, farms and agritainment destinations that are of interest to travelers get a free listing on the DiscoverOhio website as a way to publicize events and draw people to their attractions,” Brown says. “Over the last five years, we’ve seen the number of these destinations increase. Visitors to our state seek them out, especially in the spring and again in the fall during harvest. The connection to the earth, to our agricultural heritage is a part of the fabric of tourism and a great way to spend time with family and friends.”