When you take that first sip of a 4-H Milkshake a few things may come to mind: America, down-home old fashioned, quality, summer, cows, splendid goodness…and the Stanislaus County Fair.
4-H Youth Advisor and milkshake aficionado, manager Ingrid Mello, proudly proclaimed what everyone is thinking but afraid to admit.
“You know, people wait all year for our milkshakes,” said Mello.
It’s true, once you try the 4-H Milkshakes, made with real ice cream and fresh milk, the mouthwatering taste is something that simply remains locked into your brain and you secretly crave to deliciousness on a regular basis — only to be denied until that one special time of year in July.
The reasonably priced $4 shakes are so popular that more than 20 4-H volunteers and family members work diligently to sell as many as 1,200 a day and customers will kindly brave long lines to get their annual 4-H milkshake fix, including vanilla, chocolate, and various berry flavors.
4-H milk, and the Stanislaus County Fair have “dosey doed” hand-in-hand since the mid 1960s when 4-H volunteers would serve up cold glasses of milk, ice cream bars, and sodas. In the early 1970s 4-H began serving the milkshakes and they’ve been a hit ever since.
The milkshakes have become a generational summer treat for both customers and volunteers. Mello says she served shakes and cold glasses of milk as a youth and her children have done the same.
More than 20 different 4-H clubs from across the county send youth members to volunteer, many of whom earn community service hours for their respective schools and clubs.
“We are really making more than milkshakes here,” said Mello. “We are building opportunities for young people. Over the years I have written letters of recommendations for employment and scholarship letters. In fact, our kids are so used to long lines that when they go to work at places like In-N-Out Burger they aren’t even phased by it.”
University of California Cooperative Extension 4-H Advisor JoAnn Ratto says that each year 4-H collects more than $10,000 and the milkshake barn is easily the largest fundraiser for the county.
Donations for the shakes also help to maximize the profit collected. This year the California Milk Advisory Board donated 1,000 gallons of fresh milk and Yosemite Farm Credit donated thousands of cups, lids, and straws.
Ratto says money raised is put back into 4-H; it pays for leadership conferences, camps, community activities and scholarships.
The 4-H Milkshake building is located immediately to the right of the Bud Light Variety Free Stage. Swing on by and prepare to have your taste buds blown away and your brain imprinted with the unforgettable taste of a 4-H Milkshake. And don’t forget, they also serve fresh milk, regular and chocolate.