People love ice cream, there is no denying it. Statistics show that the average American consumes about 20 pounds of ice cream every year. That equals approximately four gallons of ice cream a person. So, it should come as no surprise to us that when we put out the call on social media for suggestions about the focus of our annual Bracket Challenge in March, ice cream was the cream of the crop (pun intended).
Our Bracket Challenge – Ice Cream Edition started with a bang. We had over a thousand different people comment with suggestions of ice cream shops they’d like to see in the competition. Once the participating establishments were announced, another wave of excitement came from the owners of each ice cream shop. Many of the establishments involved in the Bracket Challenge took to their social media pages early and often, encouraging their followers to watch our page in order to vote.
“Our loyal customers have always been enthusiastic supporters of our shop,” says Marilyn Adamson, General Manager of the Dairy Dee in Sumner. “We would hope that their enthusiasm will translate to the ice cream bracket challenge. Their repeat business has allowed us become a destination. We like to say, “we are on the way home from everywhere.” All that and 8 soft serve flavors everyday doesn’t hurt,” Adamson adds.
One of the several things that we have learned from doing our Bracket Challenge competitions is that they drive economic development. Yes, it’s great that we pick up a ton of followers and engagement on our Facebook page, but the best part is that our local business owners are REALLY reaping the benefits. People will absolutely travel for food if it’s something they want to try and have heard good things about. We have had dozens of people tell us that they actually print out the brackets and use them as a checklist - our friends at Chuck’s Place in Salem can attest to that. During the Bracket Challenge – Burger Edition their 14 tables were constantly full, and 10 of the 14 were usually from folks who came from an hour or more away. Chuck’s Place had some of their highest sales days ever during the competition, and that kind of response is EXACTLY what we like to see for our communities!
“We are hoping the Bracket Challenge will bring more exposure to Red Bud in general,” explains Kyle Winkelman, Owner of Sling N’ Scoops in Red Bud. “We routinely encourage customers to visit the many restaurants and shops that Red Bud has to offer, then grab ice cream before you head out.”
In the end, the Bracket Challenge – Ice Cream Edition was another big success. There were over 43,000 votes cast in a three week span, reaching hundreds of thousands of folks on social media. Dairy Dee out of Sumner won this year’s competition, with Dairy King in Clinton County coming in second. Although the competition is over, the fun part is up to you this summer. Our challenge to you is to take the next several weeks and make a point to visit one ice cream shop a week before many of them close in the fall. Not only will it make your taste buds happy, but you’ll be helping out locally owned businesses. What’s better than that?
**This article comes from the 2023 Spring/Summer Tourism Times. To learn more about how to read the publication, click here.