The Cambrian

Harmony Valley Creamery ice cream moooves ahead

This old milk delivery truck on display at the California Mid-State Fair has been transformed into an ice cream truck.
This old milk delivery truck on display at the California Mid-State Fair has been transformed into an ice cream truck.

When is an old milk-delivery truck not a milk truck any more? 

When it’s been retrofitted into a Harmony Valley Creamery ice cream truck, such as the one that’s on display in the Mid-State Fair’s Ponderosa Pavilion through Sunday, Aug. 2.

Restoration is continuing on two such 1950s-era trucks, one from Arizona and one from California, according to Alan Vander Horst, owner of the trucks and the one-block, 2.5-acre town of Harmony, five miles south of Cambria. So at the fair, he and Edna FFA members selling the custom-blended ice creams are doing so out of an adjacent booth.

Flavors to be sampled and sold by the cup and pint at the fair include Moodagascar Vanilla Bean, Boom Chocolaca (chocolate), Cookie Monsters & Cream, Mint — Mint ‘n’ Chip, and Utter Butter Pecan. Root beer floats and sundaes also are for sale there, Vander Horst said Monday, July 27, in a phone interview from the fair.

He said he and his managing partner Tom Halen helped a Paso Robles ice-cream artisan “put together the ice cream flavor profiles” using as many local products as possible, including a customized ice cream base from Cal Poly.

The ice cream is the first product of Harmony Valley Creamery, he said, and is just one part of the bootstrap-tugging complete in-town face lift that began with permits, gutting the inside of the old creamery building and totally redoing the landscaping to meet land-use codes and requirements from the Americans with Disabilities Act, and to spruce up the town’s image and look.

In the meantime, businesses such as the longtime Harmony Pottery and Harmony Glassworks remain open.

Among Harmony’s eventual entrepreneurial offerings is to be Harmony Valley Creamery Dairy Shoppe, which will offer various soft and semi-soft cheeses, fresh cheese curds, milk, butter, and, yes, ice cream. 

Vander Horst said he hopes that by early 2016, a town-to-table restaurant will open and the new-old Harmony will be ready for its debut.

The Harmony Valley Creamery traces its roots back to the formation of the Harmony Valley Creamery Association in the coastal hamlet of Harmony in 1913, where it served as a vital part of the dairy industry in San Luis Obispo County. 


Vander Horst was also instrumental in bringing the “Moo’ve over” CowParade art exhibit to the fair’s Ponderosa Pavilion. The life-size, 120-pound painted acrylic sculptures were created individually by Cuesta College art student Michelle Watson of Harmony and by Carol Paulsen, a seasoned SLO County artist. 

Also on display is Randy Gilman’s “Daisy’s Dream” from the 500-cow New York CowParade in 2000 CowParade. 

That sculpture originally was shown at ground level adjacent to Grand Central Station. 

Artists are invited to create original CowParade entries on blank acrylic bovines; sponsors are to commission the artists. The herd is to be moooooved from place to place countywide from January to August 2016.

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