LaClare Farms, maker of U.S. Championship Evalon goat's milk cheese, will host a grand opening of its new farmstead dairy facility with a weekend of events Nov. 1-4.
Located at W2994 County Road HH, east of the intersection of Highway 151 in tiny Pipe, the facility includes a dairy plant, retail store and café, along with a milking parlor with housing for 600 milking goats. The retail shop offers specialty cheeses, craft beers, wines, ice cream and Wisconsin local foods.
On Friday, Nov. 1, the farmstead café, which offers a daily menu for lunch and dinner, will offer a special Grand Opening Friday Fish Fry from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Festivities continue on Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 2-3, with free tours of the entire facility every hour on the hour from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The public may also participate in free seminars discussing cheesemaking, dairy goat farming and a special wine and cheese pairing from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday. A petting zoo will be available for children, with all-day tastings of cheese, beer and wine for adults. On both days, owners Larry and Clara Hedrich and their family will host a dedication ceremony for the 35,000 sq. ft. facility at 2 p.m.
"This has truly been a labor of love for our family," co-owner Larry Hedrich said. "We are proud to open one of the most modern dairy processing facilities in the United States producing the highest quality dairy products possible. We can't wait to show it off to the public."
The LaClare Farms dairy plant is capable of processing cow, goat and sheep milk products, including cheese, cultured products and bottled milk. In addition to crafting their own LaClare Farms products, the Hedrichs perform custom processing and aging, and work with other dairy entrepreneurs to develop new products.
The entire facility offers public viewing windows so visitors may see first-hand what's happening in the goat milking parlor, dairy processing plant and cheese aging rooms.
The new farmstead dairy plant allows the Hedrich family to expand their current offering of goat's milk and mixed milk cheeses, including Evalon, Fresh Chevre, Cheddar, Fondy Jack and an array of American Originals, all crafted by the Hedrich's daughter, Katie Hedrich, the 2011 U.S. Champion Cheesemaker. A new cheese is slated to be unveiled during the Grand Opening weekend.
The couple's son, Greg Hedrich, is the business manager of the integrated agricultural enterprise, and daughter Jessica Hedrich runs the retail shoppe/cafe. Another daughter, Anna, works part-time in herd management while continuing her off-enterprise job. All Hedrich siblings hold university degrees in subjects ranging from marketing to human resources to dairy science to education.
The project was made possible by financial assistance from Fond du Lac County, the Fond du Lac County Economic Development Corporation, and Calumet County Bank.