Ice Cream Capital of the World has a new attraction

LE MARS — There’s a brand new Wells Dairy Ice Cream Parlor and Visitors’ Center in the northwest Iowa city that bills itself as the Ice Cream Capital of the World. Adam Baumgartner, the vice president of retail sales, gave local media a tour of the facilities in Le Mars yesterday.

“It’s all about fun. It’s all about bringing that to our guests and our employees as well,” Baumgartner said.

The new, $3 million Visitors Center tells the Wells Dairy story, starting as a family business delivering milk to what is now the second-largest dairy in the country. Interactive exhibits show how ice cream is made. The new Ice Cream Parlor features 37 different flavors of ice cream.

“It really creates a one-of-a-kind event and place and location that you won’t be able to find anywhere else,” Baumgartner said.

Before the Ice Cream Parlor closed for renovations, it annually attracted more than 200,000 visitors.

“Our goal is to more than double that and the investment that we’ve put into this facility and everything we’ve done will truly support that,” Baumgartner said. “We think beyond the Iowa State Fair this will be the single-biggest tourist attraction in the state of Iowa.”

The new facility will have a staff of 40 full-time employees. A “soft” opening will be held tomorrow. The grand opening is set for Wednesday, the start of Ice Cream Days in Le Mars, which is also celebrating its sesquicentennial.