What could be a sweeter sign of summer fun than kids and ice cream? (SUSIE JARVIS |THE PHOTO BOOTH)
Mint chocolate chip. Rocky road. Butter pecan. Cookie dough.
In a cup. In a cone. With marshmallow cream or chocolate syrup or fresh peaches.
From plain vanilla to one of those monster shakes that explode anything from sprinkles to cheesecake over the sides of a tall, cold mug, when it comes to ice cream, the options are endless. If you wanted, you could order something different every day. And why not? It’s summer. It’s hot. And it’s July, which just happens to be National Ice Cream Month.
July has held this distinction ever since our favorite sweet-tooth president Ronald Reagan proclaimed not only the month but also a day of annual ice cream celebration—the third Sunday of July—in 1984. That means tomorrow, July 17, is specifically dedicated to the cold treat.
But why limit ice cream happiness to one day or even a month? That might have been the thinking behind the Logan County Ice Cream Trail, which spreads the love through the summer and across the county.
Put together by the Logan County Visitor’s Bureau, the trail hits 12 cold spots in eight towns, from ice cream-only stores to restaurants that offer food like cheeseburgers or pizza. The idea of sending people on such a tasty journey started last year when Emily Walters, LoCo Visitor’s Bureau director, contacted the visitor’s bureau of Butler County to learn about their donut trail.
“That inspired us,” Walters said.
So she switched the concept to ice cream and tried a month-long trial run in 2021. In that short time, people turned in 50 trail passports, which proved it far more successful than they’d anticipated.
Fast-forward to this summer’s ice cream trail, and they have already handed out 5,000 passports since the fun began on May 1. The visitor’s bureau started out with 2,500, but soon the participating stores were requesting more, so they printed another 2,500.
“It’s not meant as a day trip,” Walters commented, “but something you can do as a family throughout the summer.” That said, one group actually knocked it out over a weekend and were the first to hand in their completed passports.
How does it work? It’s actually quite simple: Get your passport signed or stamped as you visit each location. Purchase is optional, though that seems to rather defeat the purpose. You also don’t have to buy ice cream, though you really should to enjoy the whole experience. And if you forget your passport, which has been known to happen, or discover the place is closed when you get there, simply take a photo at the location, and it will be counted.
Once you’ve completed the trail, submit your passport to the visitor’s bureau staff. They have 100 T-shirts to hand out to the initial finishers, plus cow bags for kids and other prizes. But don’t dilly-dally! The trail is only open through Labor Day and, to date, approximately 30 participants have already turned in their passports.
The visitor’s bureau has heard good feedback so far. One older couple decided to go for a second round since they had so much fun. Another group of girls handed in their passports, then headed over to Whit’s for more. The trail has gone so well, the plan is to add a digital option to keep track of people’s progress online.
According to Walters, the bureau has “never had an easier time getting businesses involved,” and, she added, “They’re seeing more people come in, so it’s been successful for them.”
To find out more about the Logan County Ice Cream Trail, stop by the bureau at 100 S. Main St., Bellefontaine, or visit experiencelogancounty.com/logan-county-ice-cream-trail/.