September 5, 2017 at 3:32 p.m.

Ice cream on the move

Carver County ADA helps move product, educate consumers through ice cream machine rentals
This trailer, purchased by the Carver County ADA four years ago, is used to transport the ice cream machines to different events. Prior to the trailer, the machines were hauled in the back of a truck.<br /><!-- 1upcrlf -->PHOTO BY JENNIFER BURGGRAFF
This trailer, purchased by the Carver County ADA four years ago, is used to transport the ice cream machines to different events. Prior to the trailer, the machines were hauled in the back of a truck.<br /><!-- 1upcrlf -->PHOTO BY JENNIFER BURGGRAFF

By By Jennifer Burggraff- | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

Chaska, Minn. - "I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream!"
These words from the classic song by Johnson, Moll and King certainly seem to ring true in Carver County, Minnesota. Last year, the Carver County American Dairy Association (ADA) ran 995 gallons of malt and shake mix through their ice cream machines, went through 280 gallons of hard scoop ice cream and served 750 gallons of milk during the five-day Carver County fair.
For the last 20 years, however, delighting in delectable dairy treats in Carver County hasn't been limited to fair time alone; it has become a year-round occurrence.
Since 1992, the Carver County ADA has been renting out their ice cream machines for events throughout the county and the surrounding areas. It's a venture that has kept the machines in use year-round and has helped the dairy industry in more ways than one.
"It's like having your own Dairy Queen at your party," said Chaska, Minn., dairy farmer and past Carver County ADA board member, Tim Eiden, of the ice cream machines.
Tim and his wife, Patty, milk 55 cows on their farm near Chaska, Minn., with help from their five children - Katie (27), married to Tim Dahl with two children and the manager of Subway in Chaska; Doug (24), a draftsman project manager; Amy (23), an RN at Abbott Northwestern; Lynn (21), a veterinary technician; and Mark (17), a high school senior next fall - when they are around. In addition to the farm, Tim has become the official hauler and handler of the Carver County ADA's ice cream machines.
It started when Tim was serving on the ADA board from 1992-1996. At that time, the Carver County ADA's double ice cream machine was used only for the county fair.
"It bugged me that the other 360 days of the year it wasn't being used," Tim said.
The idea was brought up to rent the machine out for local events. It was met with almost instant success.
"If someone had an open barn or an open house, a birthday or graduation party [we would bring the machine]," Tim said.
"It just snowballed," Patty said.
With no trailer to haul it in, it took four people to load the cumbersome machine into the back of a truck for transport. The task was simplified when Tim made a ramp to push the machine up into the truck, and even more so when someone built a wheel chair lift for them to use.
"That worked real well," Tim said of the lift. "... Suddenly I became the guy who hauled the machine."
As the county fair grew - as well as demand for the ice cream machine - the Carver County ADA was able to purchase more used machines, including single machines that were easier to transport and handle. About four years ago, when the used ice cream machines began to wear out, three new machines were purchased. At the same time, they also purchased a trailer to haul them in.
The Carver County ADA now owns three single and one double ice cream machines, as well as a milk dispenser. The $24,000 they shelled out for the new machines and trailer have been worth it. Aside from the county fair, the ice cream machines were rented out to 70 events last year. While a majority of the events are within Carver County, the Eidens have had calls from as far away as Worthington, Minn., and have traveled as far as Monticello, Minn., to deliver a machine for an event.
"There is no way we would have known this would go this [well]," Tim said of renting the machines out.
The Eidens - with Patty being the current president of the ADA board - have served as the designated caretakers of the ice cream machines over the last 20 years. When someone wants to rent one, they give the Eidens a call and line up a time for delivery. Tim typically hauls the machine to the event and helps set it up. The people renting the machine are in charge of getting the ice cream mix and making sure they have the right electrical hook up for the machine. When the event is done, Tim will pick up the machine, bring it back to their farm and thoroughly clean it with help from Patty.
The Carver County ADA charges $100 to rent an ice cream machine, or $150 for the double machine. For events out of the county, they also charge mileage. Machine rental is waived for church groups and non-profits - like schools - which account for about half of the rentals. Dairy farmers can rent a single machine for $50.
"But if they work in the malt stand at the fair they get their $50 back," Patty said.
The ice cream machines have been used for everything from Christmas parties and weddings to Breakfast on the Farm events, the Eidens said, but the most unique event they've been used for was a Dairy Queen tradeshow held at the Mall of America last year.
"That was fun," Patty said, smiling.
Ice cream machine rentals brought in $3,600 last year for the Carver County ADA, which accounts for about half the events they were used at. More important than the extra revenue, they've helped move product, Tim said.
"It averages out to 10 to 15 gallons [of mix] per place; that's 700 gallons of ice cream mix that we move per year or more," Tim said.
Hauling the machines to various events has also provided ample educational opportunities for Tim and Patty, as well as off-the-farm time for Tim.
"I think I've been on every road in Carver County now," he said.
He knows the machines well enough by this point to troubleshoot most problems over-the-phone.
"When we started I didn't think it would ever get this big," Tim said. "It's grown into something no one ever envisioned."
So, next time your event screams for ice cream, give the Eidens and the Carver County ADA a call. They just might be able to help you out.
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