LaClare Creamery expands shopping, agri-tourism attractions
Last spring, visitors to LaClare Family Creamery were treated to more than world-class goat cheeses.
Crowds visiting the popular creamery were delighted by the addition of a 26-foot wooden silo, encircled by a walkway for the agile goats, along with antique industrial displays and a greenhouse.
"We stopped for a sandwich and to buy some cheese and couldn't believe all the changes," said George Smith. "This place has really grown!"
In 2021, the silo was the centerpiece of the latest visitor's experience at the creamery, coming on the heels of a $10 million expansion between the Hedrich family and Kaukauna-based Milk Source.
Jim Ostrom, a partner in the premier goat cheese operation located outside the small outpost of Pipe, Wis., helped to spearhead the agri-tourism expansion that helps to educate visitors on the contribution of goats to the state's dairy industry.
"We decided to build a very small visitor experience and it kind of grew," Ostrom told the Wisconsin State Farmer.
This year LaClare Family Creamery is doubling down as an agri-tourism destination with expanded attractions.
Larger Greenhouse & Garden Center: A new permanent greenhouse debuts, which is four times larger than the seasonal structure used in 2021. “This is a direct response to the consumer demand we experienced last year,” said Marji Lechner, LaClare’s supply chain manager. “Area gardeners wanted more, so we’re going to give them more. A lot more.”
The expanded garden center will include a broad selection of annuals with a variety of petunias, begonias, bedding plants, tomatoes, herbs, succulents and more. In addition, the greenhouse will offer common perennials, such as Black-eyed Susan, Hostas, etc.
“We’ll have weekend planting classes aimed at creating more personalized planter. These programs will also include a cheese-and-wine pairing,” said Jessi Schoofs, retail manager. “LaClare also has a designated spot for guests to build their planters on site which includes a children’s planting area as well."
Animals Up-Close: Because LaClare cheeses rely on fresh goat milk, the animals behind the creamery’s success also are highlighted in the new additions. LaClare has added a larger goat viewing area as well as a new rock wall for the animals to climb. This is in addition to the creamery’s signature goat tower.
“The freshest milk makes the best-tasting cheese, so it’s just natural that we spotlight the wonderful goats that are the heart of our farm,” Schoofs said.
One-of-a-Kind Shopping: Consumers will be able to walk inside a grain bin retro fitted as an outdoor shopping area. “You’re not going to get that experience at the local shopping mall,” Lechner noted. “If you want an inside view of agriculture, you can’t get much more ‘inside.’”
Expanded patio area: Fans of the LaClare café’ will have more outdoor dining available, as well as guests who just want to rest their legs with the expanded seating.
In 2019, LaClare undertook a major plant expansion that doubled its cheesemaking space and created a Visitors Center with self-guided tours. In 2021, it added its trademark “goat tower” and introduced the greenhouse concept. Last June, LaClare also hosted ENVISION Greater Fond du Lac’s Breakfast on the Farm, which drew several thousand visitors.
“All our 2022 projects are building upon the momentum we’ve experienced over the last several years,” Schoofs said. “Mom can shop. Dad can eat. The kids can observe the animals. Grandparents can relax in the patio area. We’ve created a place that the whole family can enjoy together.”
LaCLare has also added more family events for guests who want to fully immerse themselves with a “day on the farm,” which includes yoga with the goats, family picnics, crafting events, planting classes, kid charcuterie classes, Tapas, baby goat snuggles, “Goats and a Good Time” happy hour specials, and many more activities.
About LaClare Family Creamery: LaClare traces its roots back to 1978. It has positioned itself as one of the 100% domestically produced goat cheese manufacturers in the country. Our direct and local Wisconsin milk supply lets us set the standard for goat milk dairy products with a full line of award-winning specialty cheeses and fresh fluid goat milk. The business has received numerous national and international awards for its innovative and quality products. Learn more at www.laclarefamilycreamery.com.