MONMOUTH — The Monmouth Fair bills itself as the little fair with a lot of pull, but not all of that straining and grunting takes place inside the pulling ring.

Right nearby, in a museum packed with more interesting antique tools and machinery than Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory, Gary Buzzell and his daughter, Kristin Sciolino, can be found twice a day, lining kids up to turn the crank on their ice cream maker. The work is hard, especially as the ice cream begins to harden; but the payment, consisting of a healthy scoop of homemade vanilla, is good. Buzzell even throws in a splash of chocolate syrup if you’d like.

The adults can get a taste without spinning.

“We have a collection jar,” Buzzell said with a broad smile.

Buzzell and Sciolino, both of Greene, have offered the ice cream demonstration at the fair for the past four years. They’ve perfected the practice since their first attempts.

“Our first batch ended up being butter,” said Sciolino, whose children were on hand Friday to take their turn on the crank. “But it was delicious butter.”

The mixture, perhaps not surprisingly, includes milk, light cream and vanilla. Then there’s rock salt, which is used to freeze the cream but isn’t eaten, and which you’re more likely to find in a workshop than a kitchen.

Buzzell takes a couple of measurements, but for the most part he pours the ingredients by eye. When asked, he says he’s careful to get the right mixture, but Sciolino can’t help but correct the record.

“Carefully measured?” she said, stifling a laugh. “You’re funny.”

It took about 45 minutes of steady turning Friday to turn that mixture into a creamy, snow-white batch of ice cream. That’s pretty standard, depending on how good the person is at turning the crank, Sciolino said.

Buzzell said he can tell when the batch is ready by taking a turn on the crank.

“When it gets so I can barely turn it, it’s pretty well done,” he said.

One year a group of teenage football players showed up and decided to test their mettle against the crank.

“We had good, hard ice cream that year,” Buzzell said.

Five-year-old Jordan Keiffer, of Turner, who admitted she really hasn’t found a flavor of ice cream she doesn’t like, was anxious to get her hands on the crank over and over again even though it kept wearing her out.

“It just kept stopping,” she said.

Nicholas Stein, 10, who was visiting with his family from Vermont, has taken a turn turning the wheel for the last couple of years. It’s not as hard as it used to be, he said.

“I’m growing and getting stronger,” he said proudly.

Making the ice cream not only provides quality entertainment for the young people; it also allows them to turn back the clock to a different era, when food was harder to come by.

“Do you guys know about hard work?” fair volunteer Pogo Pogorelc asked the group of youngsters as Buzzell set up the demonstration.

Buzzell, who directs the fair museum with Curtis Fox, of Monmouth, takes time out from watching the churning process to tell people about the tools in the museum and giving a demonstrations on how they work. Kids come for the ice cream. They stay for the stories.

“I want to keep it hands-on so the kids can come in here and touch stuff,” he said.

Buzzell said he’s always on the hunt for more volunteers to help expand the museum. He has another whole collection, including a blacksmith shop and household items, just waiting to go on display.

“I’ve got tons of stuff we could add in here,” he said. “We just don’t have the room right now.”

Buzzell and Sciolino will return to the fair the next two days. Demonstrations are scheduled for 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday. There might be a line, but be patient; everyone will get a turn.

“We sometimes have to turn away the adults,” Sciolino said, smiling as usual.

Craig Crosby — 621-5642

[email protected]

Twitter: @CraigCrosby4


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