Cowsmopolitan representatives Gerald, Maxine and Jackie Glasshof enjoyed the sights and sounds at the US National Holstein Convention in Lancaster, PA this week. They gave rave reviews about the hospitality extended by the Pennsylvania Holstein Association members welcoming the nation’s Holstein breeders to the Keystone State, and send this report from one of the Host Day tours!
The Cows to Cones Tour was an official Host Day event of the 2021 National Holstein Convention at Lancaster, PA. The attendees entered the tour bus at 6:15 AM and after a very full day of food, more food, sights and innovative ideas, the bedraggled but very happy group departed the bus at 6:15PM. The tour included visits to three value-added farm enterprises, each with a unique focus on their dairy business. The day began with breakfast at Shady Maple Smorgasbord, East Earl, PA, featuring a jaw-dropping 200 feet of Pennsylvania Dutch and American cooking.
September Farm, Honey Brook, PA owned by David & Roberta Rotelle was our first stop on the very day that they processed their 1000th batch of cheese. Although the Rotelle family had been involved in the food industry for years, David entered the dairy farming business in 2002, and after a trip to Vermont and watching a cheese maker in action, he suddenly had the cheese dream. David traveled to Wisconsin and received training as a cheese maker, came back to the farm in Pennsylvania and made his first cheese wheel in the farm kitchen. Eventually, the Rotelles opened a small cheese store on the farm, and in 2013 the new store and state-of-the-art factory was in place with 70 employees. The 50-cow dairy farm has since been sold and the milk for the factory and store is supplied by a neighboring farm. Monterey Jack and cheddar are the primary cheeses in production plus fresh cheese curds. Unlike in Wisconsin, cheese curd production was not well known in this area but is a rapidly growing market for September Farm. About 80% of the cheese produced on the farm is sold in the store. The store also features a sandwich shop, country market, bake shop, coffee coop and hand-dipped ice cream. At the cheese factory, one can watch the cheese making process and enjoy samples.
After an hour ride of gorgeous countryside views, the tour group landed in Montgomery County, the home of Merrymead Farm, Landsdale, PA. Merrymead is a Pennsylvania century farm owned by the Rothenberger family, and the store has been open since 1971. Seven family members spanning three generations are directly involved in the business management with at least one family member always present when the business is open. The dairy farm consists of 70 cows plus crop land with 15 full time employees. The retail business has a blossoming entertainment twist with seasonal themes, wagon rides, decorations, on-sight events; their fall season with pumpkins, corn maze and fall festivities is a huge area attraction, and the business can employ up to 125 people at this time. Each week the ice cream plant processes 625 gallons of hand-made ice cream, and by each Monday morning, the store is sold out so they will be expanding. Interestingly, ice cream cake, a product that has shown steadily increasing demand, is receiving more business attention. Milk processing goes on three days a week and is also sold in local stores. The milk is piped directly to the milk plant from the parlor. Here at Merrymead, the tour group was served a tasty and bountiful barbecued lunch.
By mid-afternoon, the group was on yet another pleasant hour ride through the Pennsylvania countryside, and the final stop was made at Klein Farms Dairy at Easton, PA. The farm has been in business since 1935 and is now managed by the 3rd generation of Kleins. To the delight of the Holstein Convention attendees, the signature product at Klein Farms is Happy Holstein Ice Cream! Raw milk in various sized containers is the other unique product sold in the retail store. Beef raised on the farm, raw milk cheese, yogurt, cage-free eggs are also available at the store. On the grounds, guests can enjoy two complete playground sets, various animals to see and pet including ponies, goats with their own performance playground, pigs, ducks, turkeys and assorted other fowl. The extremely docile & friendly registered Holstein herd housed in a tie stall barn is a real treat!