The United States is a country that loves its ice cream- individually we eat nearly 6 gallons a year. And of those millions of gallons purchased annually over 100 million gallons come from Wells Enterprises, maker of Blue Bunny, in the small Iowa town of LeMars.
Ice Cream Days Festival
Few realize that tiny LeMars is the Ice Cream Capital of the World®. Officially designated as such in 1994 by the Iowa State Legislature, more ice cream is produced in LeMars by a single company than in any other city in the world. That’s a pretty good reason for a party!
For four days, Wednesday thru Saturday, the third weekend of June, LeMars throws a city-wide festival that includes live music, an incredible parade and daily ice cream socials. Visitors come from across the country for Ice Cream Days, enjoying the small town hospitality and maybe going a bit above their allotted annual 6 gallons of ice cream.
Fun at the Ice Cream Festival
Local favorite Bob’s Drive-In – nationally known for their Tavern and BobDog- hosts classic cars and music from the 50’s and 60’s to help kick of the festival on Wednesday. Start there with dinner and head to first ice cream social of Ice Cream Days.
Thursday brings a family bike ride. Replace the calories you burned at the Annual Primebank Ice Cream Social and end the evening with a family friendly outdoor movie.
Things get busier on Friday with the Kids Ice Cream Cone-ival, fun carnival style games with an ice cream twist! I love that game tickets are free for this and every child wins a prize, just for playing. Concerts and exhibitions take place later that evening at the Olson Cultural Event Center.
Saturday caps off the festival in a big way with the Ice Cream Days Parade. This is one of the best small town parades you can attend! From Shriners in go carts to funky drumlines, this is a parade sure to keep you on your toes. The kids will love that the floats toss candy but the best treats come from Blue Bunny-Bomb Pops- and Land O Lakes Milk – cartons of chocolate milk.
Follow the parade by wandering through Art in the Park in Foster Park. You’ll find artists, crafters and vendors of all sorts, not to mention the Scoops of Fun kids area in the center of the park.
Note: Events may change annually. Be sure to get the latest Ice Cream Days brochure.
Blue Bunny Ice Cream Parlor
Probably the top tourist attraction in Le Mars is the Blue Bunny Ice Cream parlor. Located in an historic downtown building, the parlor takes you back to the days of classic ice cream parlors with counter service and hand-dipped creations. If you can, grab a seat at the counter and watch the ice cream artists work their magic. Peruse the menu of treats and pick your favorite. My daughters highly recommend the Dirt & Worms Mud Puddle Sundae. But be sure to bring your appetite- they don’t serve anything small here!
After you’ve eaten your fill, make your way up the grand staircase to get a glimpse of Blue Bunny’s history and learn how some of your favorite treats are made on the interactive displays. Or just sit on the comfy leather couch and relax. Don’t miss the gift shop as you leave. At the very least pick up an Ice Cream Capital of the World® magnet or ice cream cone Christmas tree ornament.
For a relaxing cup of coffee or a light meal cross the street to Habitue Coffeeshop and Creperie. This is one of the most inviting coffee shops I have ever visited. The food is delicious, the ambiance is warm, and the treats displayed at the counter look delightful.
Have you visited Le Mars for Ice Cream Days or to stop at the Blue Bunny Ice Cream parlor? I would love to hear your story in the comments!
Enjoy this post- and others- in the Celebrate Travel blog carnival Salute to Ice Cream!
Family Rambling would like to thank Blue Bunny for inviting us to Le Mars for the Ice Cream Days festivities and the grand opening of the new Blue Bunny Ice Cream Parlor.