Ice cream, Creamery anniversary featured at Pasto Museum final 2015 open house

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The last in a series of fall open houses at Penn State's Pasto Agricultural Museum will be a traditional ice cream social in honor of the 150th anniversary of the Penn State Creamery.

The Nov. 22 event will feature free Penn State Berkey Creamery ice cream, while supplies last, and ice cream will be made the old-fashioned way as visitors watch. Live music will be performed by the Stone Valley Pickers, a small band of local musicians playing old-time folk music. They will mingle the sounds of banjo, fiddle, mandolin, guitar and vocals, while filling the museum with "old time chanties and melodies your grandmother hummed," according to curator Rita Graef.

On display at the museum through November are milk cans and bottles from the early State College Creamery and early Pennsylvania College Creamery. "Private collectors Larry Harpster and Steve Spencer will share their passion and interest in Penn State and dairy history to help us set up a display of bottles and cartons, milk cans and photos of the time," said Graef.

"One of the special items on display is a milk can that would have been inserted into food service dispensers on campus. We also have included original records of milk production and percent butterfat from the late 1890s that were receipts from local farmers selling milk to the Creamery. From early gothic lettering and embossed glass designs to printed milk cartons, the graphics on each item are unique to the period."

The fall open house series is a great time to experience the Pasto Agricultural Museum, she added. The events have featured a different part of the collection from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. each Sunday after home football games, so the experience for visitors has been different each weekend.

The museum will be open on this final Penn State home football weekend from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 22, offering activities, demonstrations, lectures and tours that highlight the facility's collection and connect agricultural history to the present day. The open house is one of numerous events held this year on campus and beyond to celebrate the Creamery's rich history.

Dairy research began at Penn State in 1865, when the Creamery was established in the College Barns behind present day Old Main along with a blacksmith's shop and hayloft.

In 1892 Penn State offered America's first collegiate instruction in ice cream manufacturing, followed soon after by a pioneering "short course" program that has helped to make the University an international center for research in frozen confections.

The Creamery moved to Patterson Building on historic "Ag Hill" in 1904. Processing operations greatly increased, research and development of pasteurized milk was established, the dairy manufacturing major was created, and retail delivery of pasteurized milk and cream began.

Operations moved to Borland Laboratory in the 1930s. Production increased enough that milk and cream were purchased from 300 area farmers. The Creamery started selling milk, cheese and ice cream in the State College and Altoona markets.

In the 1940s and 1950s, a small fleet of Penn State Creamery trucks delivered milk locally.

Graef noted that the Pasto Museum open houses help the public to better appreciate the time when energy for work was supplied by the power of humans and animals. Funding for the open houses has been provided through a grant made possible by the Central Pennsylvania Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Centre County Board of Commissioners.

"By seeing and touching tools and equipment used in early agriculture and rural life, people will better understand how early technological developments led to modern-day technologies," she said.

More information on the museum and its open houses is available online. To receive information and event reminders via email, send a message to PastoAgMuseum@psu.edu. Graef can be reached at 814-863-1383 or by email at rsg7@psu.edu. Facebook users can follow the museum here.

Located on the Ag Progress Days site at the Russell E. Larson Agricultural Research Center at Rock Springs — 9 miles southwest of State College on Route 45 — the museum, which is operated by the College of Agricultural Sciences, features hundreds of rare farm and home implements from the era before the advent of electricity and gasoline-powered engines.

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Last Updated November 15, 2015