By AMANDA KIMBLE
MORGAN MILL (July 9, 2016) – Cantaloupe, a perfect peach made with cream from an area dairy, a splendid strawberry made with fruit from a local patch, classic vanilla… Your favorite homemade ice cream flavors – and maybe a few you never thought you’d taste – will be put to the test Saturday, July 30.
For almost a decade area Masons, Morgan Mill residents, ice cream makers and lovers of the frosty treat have gathered for The Great Morgan Mill Ice Cream Freeze Off, organized by Harmony Masonic Lodge No. 592.
Held annually at Morgan Mill Community Center, the event combines five hours – 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. – of all the homemade ice cream you can eat (while supplies last), a barbecue sandwich lunch, live music, entertainment for the kiddos and more.
Keith Arterburn, Harmony Lodge secretary, said crowd and ice cream offerings continue to grow each year. In 2015, about 300 people flocked to Morgan Mill and an estimated $3,200 was raised.
“Each year, the proceeds are divided between three lodges – Harmony, Lingleville No. 752 and Clairette No. 1052 for the lodges’ charitable pursuits,” Arterburn said.
Through the freeze off and other efforts, Harmony Lodge raises a significant amount of money, which is filtered back into the community. Arterburn said the lodge gave out $11,000 in scholarships to former Morgan Mill students last year. He also said about $50,000 has been raised by the organization, which includes about 45 members, in less than three years.
“Through the Texas Masonic Charities Foundation, a lodge can apply for matching funds,” Arterburn said. “Every $1,000 we raise becomes $2,000.”
Each of the three lodges benefiting from the ice cream contest use the funds for causes within their communities, but all Masonic Lodges are widely know for having a focus on education, according to Arterburn.
Other programs include a Fantastic Teeth program, encouraging good oral hygiene and a literacy initiative called Take Time to Read.
Increasing its philanthropic reach, the freeze off incorporated a blood drive in 2015. Arterburn said 19 units of blood were collected for patients at Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children at last year’s event. This year’s event will again welcome Carter Blood Care’s mobile collection center.
Finally, Arterburn said Harmony has extended support to lodges across the area, including those in Strawn, Hannibal, Chalk Mountain and others.
When it comes to the Great Freeze Off, there aren’t many rules. The ice cream must be homemade, contestants must notify officials if their entry contains nuts and the entrees must be submitted in plastic or metal containers.
There is a $20 entry fee per entry and all contestants must submit a minimum of two gallons – enough for the ‘celebrity’ panel of judges to taste and plenty to feed the crowd.
“We are shooting for about 30 gallons this year,” Arterburn said.
There are no categories, judges simply pick the best three flavors. Cash prizes – $100 for first, $75 for second, $50 for third and $25 for People’s Choice – will be awarded.
Admission into the event, which includes a barbecue sandwich, chips, a drink and all the ice cream you can eat is $15 for adults and $6 for children who are 12 years old and younger.
For more information, contact Arterburn at (817) 875-6098, email email@example.com or check out the Morgan Mill Freeze Off Facebook page.