Oldest Kansas State Fair vendor still a favorite: ‘Who doesn’t love ice cream?’

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (KSNW) – A vendor at the Kansas State Fair is celebrating nearly 90 years in business.

On Tuesday, KSN got the inside scoop of the Dairy Bar, the oldest and longest running vendor at the fair.

“It’s a lot of tradition. People come down here to enjoy ice cream and lot of our older folks come down, they have been coming since they were little kids,” said Kansas Dairy Association Executive Director Stephanie Eckroat.

“It’s the first place we hit as soon as you get in the gate,” said Dairy Bar customer Bruce Lash.

Bruce Lash and his wife Ute have been going to the state fair for nearly three decades. They said each time they visit, they make sure they stop at the Dairy Bar.

“Both my sisters said please eat some peaches and cream and cookies and cream so that’s what I did,” said Ute Lash.

“This is peaches and cream that I am excitingly tearing into,” said Bruce.

The Lashes aren’t the only ones who visit the fair and get extra excited about the ice cream.

“Well, it’s a waffle cone with vanilla and it’s good,” said Don Emerick.

Don Emerick, 91, said he still remembers visiting the fair and the Dairy Bar when he was a child.

“Oh, I guess I like all the action, the vendors and the shows,” he said.

Emerick’s friend Myrna Lea Prewett, 86, said she especially enjoys the strawberry ice cream.

“I tell you what, he (the server) had it piled up pretty high and it’s good!” said Prewett.

The Dairy Bar has been operating at the fair for 88 years. While a lot has changed during that time, like the prices and bar’s exterior, Dairy Bar workers said the place’s rich history has not been forgotten.

“We actually carry a flavor that you don’t see very often. We carry black walnut and a lot of the older folks enjoy that we have that here because it’s not something that they find everyday in the grocery store,” said Eckroat.

The bar itself is also historic. Officials recently renovated the old Dairy Bar, but they made sure to incorporate the same theme and even some of the materials from the original bar.

“We hope with these renovations we have a great building to showcase what we do for many many years to come,” Eckroat said.

Eckroat also touched on the significant role the state fair and the Dairy Bar plays for Kansas dairy producers.

“From the dairyman’s perspective, this is our way to showcase our products to the public and to give them an opportunity to enjoy the things we have to offer that come from our dairy cows,” she said.

There are 151,000 milking dairy cows in Kansas making it the 16th in the United States for milk production.

“Dairy farming is on the rise. We have increased in dairy production over the last several years,” Eckroat said. “Dairy farming is becoming a big deal in Kansas.”

The Dairy Bar offers 17 ice cream flavors. As of Tuesday afternoon, Eckroat said the Dairy Bar had gone through nearly 250 three-gallon tubs of ice cream. The bar’s special for 2017 is the caramel cow crunch, a Long John Donut filled with soft-serve ice cream and caramel toppings.


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