by Marcia Napier, Grain Valley Historical Society
In a “normal year”, members of the Historical Society would be hustling around today to get their pies, cakes, and cookies baked and their ice cream made for the Moonlight Ice Cream Social.
For over 30 years, the annual fund raiser took place in Armstrong Park on the fourth Thursday in July. Last year the event had to be cancelled because of the pandemic. This year, we are back, but with a new location, date and time.
In celebration of the bicentennial, the Missouri State Historical Society is encouraging towns across the state to host an ice cream social on August 10, the actual date Missouri became a state in 1821.
Ice cream socials are a traditional gathering, dating back to the 18th century in North America. The first one recorded in America was in 1744, when Maryland governor Thomas Bladen served ice cream for a dinner party. In 1784, George and Martha Washington purchased a “cream machine for ice” for their home at Mount Vernon. The first ice cream social in the White House was in 1802, with the 3rd U.S. president, Thomas Jefferson.
When ice cream became more available to the public in the 1860s, organizations such as schools and churches started hosting ice cream socials. Church events were often fashioned after the "ice cream gardens" common in society at the time. Over the years, ice cream socials began appearing as fundraisers for various organizations.
Early Americans enjoyed many of the same flavors we do today, including strawberry, chocolate, vanilla, and pistachio. However, there were many other flavors served in the 1800s that aren’t as common today, like tea, parmesan, and even oyster flavored ice cream!
This year, our Moonlight Ice Cream Social will be held August 10, on the patio between the Historical Society Museum (506 Main Street) and Iron Kettle Brewing (508 Main Street) from 5:00pm to 8:00pm. We hope you will join us.
Tickets are available at the museum or from members of the society: Adults, $6. Children under 12, $4.
Visit the Grain Valley Historical Society during its Missouri Centennial Celebration through August 15th. The museum, located at 506 Main, will be open Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday from 10:00am—4:00pm, and Sunday from 1:00pm—4:00pm. For more information on the Grain Valley Historical Society, visit www.grainvalleyhistory.com.