Visitors learn to make ice cream at Hilmar Cheese Co.

In 1984, President Ronald Reagan designated July as National Ice Cream Month. “Ice cream is a nutritious and wholesome food, enjoyed by over 90 percent of the people in the United States. … It enjoys a reputation as the perfect dessert,” Reagan said.

Hilmar Cheese Co.’s Visitor Center celebrates the occasion with a summer family tour and ice cream making and eating.

During the tours, visitors learn about the science behind making ice cream and get the chance to create and eat their own frozen treats, according to Karessa Mast, communication and tour specialist at the visitor center.

The tour and ice cream making was originally developed as part of Hilmar Cheese’s school program. About 12,000 students participate in the tour and make ice cream. Parents asked about offering the program during the summer, so a program and schedule were developed for everyone.

“Parents are looking for a family activity and these tours are a fun way to get out of the house,” Mast said. “It’s also a great way to beat the heat.”

An average 15 to 30 visitors will show up each day, Mast said. The summer public tours have been going on for six years, and although most visitors are local families, people from out of state drop in occasionally, she said.

Besides the ice cream making, people can also participate in an exhibit, which includes interactive stations that teach guests about dairy farming, cows and the nutritional value of dairy products.

The tour and ice cream making is offered Monday through Friday at 11 am. Guests can sign up at 10:45 at the Peet’s Coffee & Tea Espresso counter.

The cost is $3 for each participant who wants to make ice cream. Reservations are suggested for groups of more than 10. Groups of more than 10 may schedule a different time. Public tours are offered until Aug. 29. School field trips commence thereafter. For more information, call (209) 656-1196.