BEYOND THE GATES - Beat heat with frosty treats, writer says
A mermaid displays serving sizes at Pelican Pete’s Shaved Ice, Junction City. Patrons can select from about 50 flavors, plus combinations, at the tropical-themed establishment. Photo by: Julie Fiedler, POST.
Story by: Julie Fiedler
1ST INF. DIV. POST
Editor's Note: This is a monthly commentary column by staff writer Julie Fiedler called, Beyond the Gates. In Beyond the Gates, Julie helps Soldiers, Family members, civilians and retirees discover Kansas by highlighting local destinations, fun and easy day trips, as well as quirky Kansas attractions.
With summer's heat in full effect, keeping cool can be a challenge. There might be a better way to beat the heat than with a cold and creamy treat, but certainly none more delicious.
So, I struck out to explore several unique, locally run spots, featuring cool, creamy and delicious treats. I know, I know: the things I endure for this column.
While I rarely will turn down an ice cream establishment of any kind, these three locales are definitely worth a visit to get a taste of some local flavor.
PELICAN PETE'S SHAVED ICE
You've probably already driven by this Junction City staple and wondered about the array of nautical-themed sculptures and knick-knacks adorning its lawn. That's how I first stumbled upon this gem.
Let me urge you to step aboard and behold the tropical paradise of kitsch that is Pelican Pete's. Gloriously appointed with flamingoes, boats, turtles and more, Pelican Pete's is a haven to kids of all ages, who enjoy exploration, imagination and a bit of humor. It's also home to shaved ice.
It's hard to say whether the main attraction is the lawn décor or the shaved ice. Both are spectacular.
These aren't your typical snow cones or slushes. The ice is like the Goldilocks of ice – not too chunky and not too fine. It's just right – soft, smooth and flavored to perfection. You won't be sucking syrup from the bottom of your cup before you're halfway finished, either. They are flavored all the way through and usually filled beyond the brim with icy, sugary goodness.
With more than 50 base flavors to choose from, you can keep it simple with plain cherry or get creative with a watermelon-lime-peach combo. A list of suggested concoctions also is available for folks who want to go a little crazy, but need some creative inspiration.
Key lime pie, anyone? Why not? You'll already feel like you're on the Gulf Coast.
Owned and operated by an extremely nice couple, Jeff and Kathy York, Pelican Pete's provides more than just deliciously refreshing shaved ice. It's a place to hang out, let loose and just go with the flow.
Pelican Pete's is only open during the summer and is located at 103 South Washington, Junction City.
HILDEBRAND FARMS DAIRY
Go for a drive on the outskirts of Junction City to get a taste of dairy farm living, as well as fresh soft serve ice cream at Hildebrand Farms Dairy.
The farm uses fresh milk and cream from its dairy cows to create its velvety vanilla soft serve ice cream. If you've never had soft serve from fresh dairy, you're in for a real treat. And if you've had fresh soft serve before, then you know it has a fresh, clean flavor. Hildebrand's ice cream certainly does, and it is rich, yet light.
Delicious ice cream like this comes from delicious milk. And delicious milk comes from healthy, happy cows, as they boast on their website.
That's part of what makes Hildebrand fun: having a chance to see the Holstein cows up close and personal.
Allow some time to watch the cows at this third-generation farm. Before you go, visit their website to learn more about their operation, like the milking, lab testing and processing involved in dairy farming.
And, of course, stop by the shop for an ice cream cone. You also can buy some freshly bottled milk, beef products and cheese.
For more information, visit www.hildebrandfarmsdairy.com.
KANSAS STATE UNIVERSITY DAIRY BAR
If traditional ice cream is more your style, head to Manhattan to check out the Dairy Bar at K-State, located in Call Hall.
They also make their ice cream using milk and cream fresh from their dairy cows.
The Dairy Bar features more than 30 flavors in its repertoire, but there is only room for about 15 flavors for scoops at any given time.
Enjoy favorite flavors or explore new ones, like the Wildcat 150, a birthday cake flavor in honor of K-State's 150th anniversary this year. The varying textures of the smooth ice cream, crunchy sprinkles and chewy cake pieces give this flavor delicious dimension. Naturally, it features purple sprinkles.
As you savor each rich and creamy mouthful, take in some of their other products, like eggs fresh from their farm, milk and a wide variety of meats. Whether you're in the market for some ground round, brisket or lamb, or you're curious about unusual fare like tongue, oxtail and heart, it's interesting to peruse their freezer section.
Oh, and you can buy ice cream by the half-gallon, too.
The Dairy Bar is open Monday to Friday. For more information, visit www.asi.ksu.edu/p.aspx?tabid=204.