State College “townies” have traditionally been divided into two camps when it comes to local ice cream preferences, aligning themselves either as Meyer Dairy fans or Penn State Berkey Creamery fans. Of course, true ice cream fans know you can’t go wrong with either choice — and now there’s a new option to welcome into the mix.
Wasson Farm Market, located at the corner of Shingletown Road and West Branch Road, began selling its own homemade ice cream from a trailer on its property at the end of July. If the first six weeks of its existence are any indication, this is quickly going to become a new favorite for local ice cream lovers.
According to Candy Wasson, who owns the farm with her husband, Ron, the couple was in the dairy industry for 30 years and had long considered opening an ice cream operation. But ironically, they decided two years ago to get out of the dairy industry altogether, selling their cows and concentrating their focus on farming 400 acres of crops as well as the ag tourism aspect of the farm.
“But then, one of our daughters (Heather Wasson) wanted to get back into it. She has a passion for the industry like no other,” Wasson said. “Once you give up your market, it is very hard to get your market back. So we decided to try this ice cream trailer as a way to be a market for her milk.”
The Wassons purchased a used trailer last fall and planned to have the ice cream operation up and running by April. But then, the pandemic hit, with shutdowns making it difficult to get necessary licenses and inspections. Finally, the ice cream trailer opened on July 28.
“We thought, let’s see how the market goes and then we’ll make some decisions on whether we want to expand,” Wasson said. “Well, it’s been very good. We never expected it to go as well as it’s gone. The community has really supported us, and we appreciate it a whole lot.”
For now, the menu is somewhat limited, featuring basic flavors (chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, mint chocolate chip, and cookies and cream) and serving cones, dishes, sundaes, and floats. Arguably their most popular item is their peanut butter sundae, featuring Candy Wasson’s own homemade peanut butter sauce.
The stand is open every day from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., and will operate until the end of October, Wasson said. Over the winter, they’ll continue to take orders for quarts and half-gallons, with plans to re-open — possibly in a permanent structure on the property — next April. When they do re-open in the spring, they plan to add a much-requested item to their menu: milkshakes.
Meanwhile, Wasson is thrilled to see so many people enjoying the ice cream and their property.
“We like to share our farm, and this is one way we can share it. People come out, get their cones, go sit around the waterfall or they walk around the farm, and they appreciate what they see,” she said. “It’s a place people feel comfortable coming to, and it makes us feel good that we’ve made an environment that is welcoming.”
The waterfall she refers to is part of a landscaped area created by Tussey Landscaping, which includes benches amongst several water features. There are also picnic tables strategically spread out across the property, ideal for social distancing. Customers are also welcome to bring their own lawn chairs and stay as long as they like, Wasson said.
According to Wasson, the farm has a long, interesting history, and they like to share that with visitors. The farmhouse in which they live was built in the late 1700s by Revolutionary War General, John Patton, and was once owned by Buck Taylor of the “Buffalo Bill’s Wild West” shows from the late 1800s. The Wasson family took over the farm in 1922.
These days, in addition to the ice cream stand, there is a farm market on the property, which, during the age of COVID, allows customers to purchase fresh produce in a completely contactless way — via putting cash into an “honor box.”
The farm also hosts special events, including a “Cruise-In” every Wednesday evening, in which car enthusiasts are invited to bring in their vehicles to show while enjoying ice cream and conversation. The farm also intends to hold its annual Fall Festival on the weekends of Sept. 26-27, Oct. 3-4, and Oct. 10-11, expanding it from two weekends to three in order to help with social distancing by spreading out the crowds. The event will feature pumpkin picking, food vendors, wine tasting — and, of course, ice cream.