A great amount of the Road Trip Kentucky project centers around research. As we strive to highlight some of the Commonwealth’s lesser known businesses and establishments, there isn’t necessarily a formula that qualifies a place for us to seek out.
To make matters even more challenging, there isn’t an index of these locations either. So, research is more than just running down a list of predetermined places, it is a hands-on effort consisting of a lot of reading, a lot of interviewing, and sometimes, luck.
It was the latter of those three that led us to make a stop in Bowling Green, KY, to highlight Chaney’s Dairy Barn.
While dawdling through the weekends emails one Monday morning, one particular subject line got my attention: “Road Trip idea?” was all it read, but I knew there was reason for excitement.
The email was from Creative Director Austin Madding, and inside was a link to a website about a 129-year-old farm which was now making its name (and had been for well over a decade) as a regional destination for ice cream lovers.
After a quick meeting, it was unanimously determined we MUST make the trip to learn more about the history of the farm, the Chaney family, and how they became to be (what we might call) the ice cream capital of Kentucky.
When we contacted them, co-owners Carl and Debra Chaney were kind and inviting, and graciously agreed to host and speak with us, despite the fact that we were visiting on what is typically their busiest day of the year.
Miss Glimmer Appreciation Day is an annual event put on by Chaney’s Dairy Barn inviting anyone and everyone to the farm to meet Miss Glimmer, Chaney’s celebrity bovine, and enjoy a free scoop of homemade, Kentucky Proud ice cream.
“Last year, we gave out about 800 scoops,” Carl Chaney told us as we chatted in a meeting room off of the 2nd floor seating area. The sounds of children laughing and chairs scooting grew louder and closer in the short time we spoke; where the 2nd floor seating area adjacent to our meeting room was empty when our interview began. “I think we are going to do more than that this year,” he said with an earnest smile.
“I see that we’re a meeting spot for some families coming from the north and south,” Debra Chaney mentioned when asked about the lengths their customers travel for a day at the farm and a scoop of ice cream. “I think they can just feel the genuine heartfelt warmth towards them, and I just soak it up, I’m a real people person,” she added, “I try my best to get names and stay as connected as I can.”
After a tour of the barn where all the action happens, Carl and Debra leave us to get back to business. One of their retailers in Mammoth Cave was low on stock and needed more ice cream for their many summer visitors. Naturally, Carl and Debra took off to deliver it themselves.
As we explored the restaurant, playground and barn area, it was clear that Carl’s claim was validated. Just as the lengthy line for the ice cream started to become manageable, busloads of children began filing in, smiling and laughing, eager to get their own scoop of the famed Kentucky Proud product.
The story of Chaney’s Dairy Barn is an inspiration and just an amazing example of how some small businesses have to adapt to changing markets and economic uncertainty through innovation and risk taking, but also by always putting your best foot forward.
To learn more about Chaney’s Dairy Barn, visit their website!