This afternoon I took my gig on the road. Ocassionally, I'm asked to scoop at local functions, fairs, and such. It can be a pretty big effort, one that falls squarely on me, since I really can't ask a summer scooper to make a bunch of ice cream, come in early on a Saturday, load up their pickup truck with a freezer, ice cream, cups, toppings, spoons, hand wash station (can't forget that one), signage, and about eighteen other required props, then drive it all to a field somewhere you've probably never been before. Then,when you get to the event, you've got to find the one person you know, somewhere within a sea of fairgoers, the one who you've been emailing with sporatically for the past two months. Once you find them, they've got to show you where to set up (and where to plug in, you hope). Finally, you've got to unload everything and configure yourself a little mini ice cream shop in the middle of that field. During this time, there are either fifty people already forming a queue in front of the freezer, or there isn't a soul to be seen. At this point, you're either thinking, 'oh boy, can my wrist take this?' or 'oh, boy, how did I get roped into this?'
I don't do many roadshows, mostly because they really are a good deal of effort. On the other hand, though, it's a great excuse to spend an afternoon outside in some festive surrounding. And it really can be a great opportunity to recruit new customers to the shop.
Today's scoop 'o-call was Southampton Day at Conant Park in, you guessed it, Southampton, MA. I didn't expect a Woodstock-type crowd, since the population of SoHamp (not sure what their swanky nickname is actually) is probably around 10,000 (another total guess). I pulled up in my truck at the requested time of 12:30pm, about an hour into the festivities. The crowd was tightly tucked into picnic tables under the park pavillion. This turned out to be very helpful, since it would be pouring within the hour. I double-parked in the lot, turned on the hazards, and began my quest to find 'Deb', my penpal over the past two months. Someone knew someone who knew her, and in the time it took her to walk over and say, 'welcome', I was backing my truck over the lawn to a spot right next to the picnic pavillion.
I quickly plugged in, set up shop, and I was in business. Here's my makeshift operation. Kindof reminds me of those old lemonade stands as a kid...
I was greeted with an initial curiosity over what they were calling the 'special Southampton Day flavor'. Seems Deb had told her crew I had invented a special flavor just for their day. Guess I missed that in the email stream somewhere. I had to do a quick improvise. Presto, chango, a new flavor was born.... Southampton Surprise.
Uncoded name: Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough.
Next time I'll be better prepared for that one. I promise, Deb.
The event was fun. I didn't break any scooping records, but I think I may have gained a new fan or two, we'll see. The new burnt sugar flavor rocked that pavillion pretty good.
As did the Southampton Choral singers...
So it was a quick event, but cool in a small town, let's get everyone together, have a little town meeting, sing songs, give out a few awards, and call it a big picnic kind of way.
And throw in some face painting, homemade blueberry pie, a trick bmx bike show, and some antique cars....
One of my favorite moments was when a little boy came up to my stand and said, 'Mt. Tom's gave you all this ice cream?'.
To which I had to reply, throwing all ego to the wind, "I am Mt. Tom's!'
He seemed unimpressed, simply replying, 'I'll have a Southampton Surprise, please.'
Small towns rule.