For almost 50 years, the Tillamook County Creamery Association (TCCA) has been running an ice cream booth at the Tillamook County Fair, but these scoops aren’t just to satisfy a sweet tooth. Every purchase of an ice cream benefits a local youth organization called the Tillamook County 4-H Leaders Association.
4-H teaches life skills to grade-school students for a variety of fields, including agriculture. And in Tillamook, many of the members are dairy farmer kids. In 2010, when 4-H budgets were cut, the TCCA raised a hand to help the organization raise funds at the annual fair.
Now, every year, Tillamook’s Ice Cream booth is staffed with TCCA employees and farmer-owners, who volunteer their time alongside 4-H students, their parents and leaders. Every dollar raised from an ice cream cone or cup is donated to 4-H.
Eight years and thousands of scoops later, the 4-H and Tillamook partnership is still going strong, with $100K donated to the 4-H Leaders Association to date.
Nestled in the heart of the Main Exhibition Hall, amongst other locally-made treats, we found a long and winding line of people hankering for a scoop, and stopped the most enthusiastic eaters to ask them about their love for Tillamook.
Tommy, a 21-year-old who ordered Fireside S’mores, said although he was born and raised in Spain, his family comes from Tillamook. He’s been returning to the county and eating Tillamook Ice Cream since he was three.
Husband and wife duo, Alyssa and Zack, said they’ve been enjoying cartons of Tillamook Ice Cream their entire lives – a total of 33 years. They professed their love for Chocolate Peanut Butter as they performed ice cream choreography.
Another Tillamook Ice Cream fan, Alexia, shared a tip: toss Tillamook scoops into a protein shake. “The ice cream gives the shake a little something while you get the good stuff, too.”
Even retired Tillamook farmer-owner, Ron Gienger swung by the booth to say hello. Ron is one of Tillamook dairy’s biggest supporters, which is little surprising, given the fact he’s related to one of the TCCA’s original founders. “Tillamook’s products are the best,” he said, looking around, as if speaking to anyone who would listen.
As the last day of the fair came to a close, a crowd could still be found by the ice cream booth. Fans waited for final tastes of the flavors that hadn’t sold out, while clusters of friends stood nearby, catching up.
Another TCCA dairy farmer-owner, Kurt Mizee, said Tillamook’s booth is where farmers wind down, and meet up with other members of the community. “The day is starting to cool off and there’s something about that ice cream cone at the fair,” said Mizee. “It’s a special thing.”