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Delighting people of all ages

Kelley Country Creamery has more than 300 flavors of hand-dipped ice cream

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March 20, 2024

FOND DU LAC — Kicking off its 15th season March 1, Kelley Country Creamery is open for business and already delighting its customers with more than 300 flavors of old-fashioned ice cream.

The creamery’s ice cream is hand-dipped — something that’s hard to find these days, Co-owner/founder Karen Kelley said.

“The hard, hand-dipped ice cream — like we serve — is a lost art because Wisconsin is known for its custard and soft-serve (ice cream),” she said.

The creamery is located on the Kelley family-owned Oak Lawn Farm, a 220-acre farmstead that was a dairy farm for many years.

The more than 60 Holsteins used to provide the Grade A milk for the creamery, Karen said, but the family stopped milking July 1 of last year.

“Some of the cows were sold, while others remained on the farm grazing and living a simpler life,” she said. “Even though we stopped milking as of last July, all of our ice cream mix is still made with our recipe by Lamer’s Dairy. They’ve always made our mix.”

Karen said the only difference — which is unrecognizable in the taste and quality — is Lamer’s is using its own milk and cream as opposed to the milk coming from the Kelley’s dairy cows.

“Lamer’s uses our recipe, and it’s all custom-processed for us,” she said.

Why a creamery?
Karen said she always wanted to do something more on the farm, which has been in business since 1861 and has been run by six generations of the Kelley family.

She considered several different options but settled on ice cream.

“I did four years of research and development,” Karen said. “I also took a couple of classes at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in ice cream making. (Early on, before the classes at Madison), I also looked at different kinds of dairy products, fruit and vegetables and other farm-related foods I could do. I zeroed in on ice cream because that is something enjoyed by people of all ages.”

The creamery opened May 2010 with 32 flavors — all basic, straight-forward and simple, Karen said.

Today, despite having more than 300 flavors (including some special seasonal ones during the months they’re open — March to December), there are four that consistently remain customer favorites and which they sell the most of every year: vanilla, chocolate, strawberry and Grandpa Leo’s Butter Pecan.

Kelley Country Creamery also makes sundaes. Photo Courtesy of Kelley Country Creamery

“We always have to have those out front,” Karen said. “Last year, our top flavor, other than those top four, was mint chocolate chip. The top flavors are always listed on our wall here at the creamery.”

Currently on the creamery’s best sellers list — besides those five — are Plain Mint, Turkey Lurkey, Strawberry Rhubarb Kuchen and Peanut Butter Peanut Butter Cup.

For a special treat, the creamery’s ice cream parlor offers a viewing window where Monday through Friday, customers can also watch ice cream being made.

Coming up with all those flavors
As you can imagine, it’s no small feat coming up with hundreds of flavors for customers to choose from.

Nor is it an easy thing for a customer to decide upon what to get with so many options.

Karen said that’s part of the fun for her and the staff.

“Having so many flavors is a lot of fun — both for the customers to try to decide what they want and for the employees to serve so many different flavors,” she said.

And how do they come up with so many flavors?

A lot of it is decided by what’s trending in the marketplace, here and elsewhere, Karen said.

“We’re also in some different groups through ice cream organizations and get ideas there,” she said. “We look at the ingredients we have and ingredients our suppliers have and see if there’s anything we can make with those things. Customers also make suggestions at times, too.”

With that many flavors, you might be surprised to learn Karen’s favorite flavor is vanilla.

“People always say, ‘you’ve got to be kidding’ when I tell them that, but I always like vanilla,” she said. “And if wherever I go has a good vanilla, they should have good other flavors, too. That’s always my starting point, but it depends on the time of year and what seasonal flavors are out there. I switch off with different flavors, but I do love vanilla.”

More than just ice cream
Besides ice cream, Kelley Country Creamery also offers ice cream cakes/pies and specialty sundaes.

It started with five main specialty sundaes: the Slow Moving Vehicle, the Black and White, the Campfire Pit, the Farmer’s Wife and the Mud Sundae.

“Then we have another (menu) board that changes every month that’s a different theme,” Karen said. “We’re offering March sundaes right now, and a lot of them are themed for St. Patrick’s Day. Each month features a different set of sundaes, but we always keep those same five that we started with.”

As for ice cream cakes, the creamery has the traditional cake that is half vanilla and half chocolate with chocolate cake crunch and fudge in the middle.

“We always have that one out front in our freezer so customers can grab and go, if they need to,” Karen said, adding that customers can create their own custom ice cream cake if they want by choosing two of the hundreds of ice cream flavors and one filling, depending on what’s in season.

Karen said they can decorate a cake with practically anything on it you can imagine, however, they prefer a one-week notice for special orders.

Growing by leaps and bounds, one cone or cake at a time
Karen said she estimates the business has grown 30 or 40 times over since they started, and continues to grow every year.

“God has been good to us,” she said. “He has blessed us over and over again. There are always new people coming in and people come from all over the United States and the world, especially in the summertime. Right after we opened this season, some people from West Africa stopped in.”

Karen said it varies how people hear about the creamery.

“I’d say our growth has been mostly by word-of-mouth,” she said. “We don’t do any advertising, so I would say it is probably 99% word-of-mouth. Sometimes they might know somebody from around here — or the hotel they’re staying at might recommend us as a place for something for them to do.”

Oak Lawn Farm and Kelley’s Farmstead — more to do than ice cream
There is more than just the creamery on Oak Lawn Farm.

Though no longer a dairy farm, it is still a working farm on which the Kelley family grows corn, soybeans, wheat and a variety of grasses, including canary grass.

The farm is also home to goats, sheep, cows, pigs, ducks and chickens.

Creamery customers can sit outside and watch the farm’s goings-on from the hillside.

And across the road from Oak Lawn Farm is Kelley’s Farmstead, an agribusiness the family has started from the diversification of some of their other farm operations.

Kelley’s Farmstead, Karen said, is one way the family shares the many blessings of the farm with tourists.

“Every April, visitors to the farmstead will get a chance to be up close and personal with the family’s new baby farm animals,” she said. “People can hold and feed the babies and learn all about them at the same time.”

In the fall, Karen said, visitors can take part in more than 20 activities, including exploring a corn maze, feeding the sheep, zipping across the field, sliding down a combine slide and lassoing a steer.

She said they can also board a pumpkin wagon, which will take them to a field where they can see how pumpkins are grown and pick their own.

“Sunflowers Taking Flight”
Also on the farm, some two acres are set aside on which the Kelleys grow hundreds, even thousands, of sunflowers.

This is more than a sight to see or a place from which to take photos, Karen said.

“There is a deeper, patriotic meaning behind the ‘Sunflowers Taking Flight’ event we started seven years ago,” she said. “The Northeast Wisconsin ‘Old Glory Honor Flights’ organization is the recipient of the sunflowers we grow.”

The Kelleys started growing sunflowers on their property, which are then given to the Old Glory Honor Flights organization and, in turn, are given to vets on their flight to Washington, D.C. Photo Courtesy of Kelley Country Creamery

Karen said she has always loved sunflowers.

“We met up with some friends who also have ice cream on their farm in Connecticut,” she said. “They’ve always done a sunflower field for the Make-a-Wish Foundation. I have always admired and appreciated our veterans and what they do so I can do what I’m doing in this country right now. Without them, we wouldn’t have the freedom to do those things — we appreciate every one of them.”

The Kelleys started growing sunflowers which are then given to the Old Glory Honor Flights organization and, in turn, are given to the vets on their flight to Washington, D.C. or other trips they take.

“I think it has helped provide healing for a lot of (our older veterans),” Karen said. “I, myself, along with my husband and some of our children, each got to be a guardian for a veteran on one of the Honor Flights. It was meaningful for us, but I think it was more meaningful for them — especially for those who never got the appreciation they should have when they came back.”

The sunflowers won’t be planted until this summer, so fall is the optimum time to visit the sunflower field in full bloom and before they’re all harvested.

For more information about the creamery or the farmstead, visit the Kelley family websites at and

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