Submitted by Cindy Johnson
Eighteen years ago, Clyde Geer was looking for a fun activity that would bring people to downtown McKinney.
“How about a chili cook-off,” Clyde asked his father-in-law Killis Melton.
“Hell no…it’s too hot in Texas in the summer to be makin’ chili,” said Killis. “We need to be makin’ ice cream!”
And the Killis Melton Ice Cream Crank-Off was born!
In 2007, when Clyde’s On the Square closed, the Killis Melton Ice Cream Crank-Off and the Doc & Clyde Ice Cream Freezer Museum moved to Chestnut Square Historic Village. Doc & Clyde’s Ice Cream Freezer Museum, the largest in the world according to the Guinness Book of World Records, is now on exhibit at Chestnut Square’s Visitors Center and the Crank-Off takes place under the shaded canopy of trees in front of the Dulaney House at Chestnut Square the second Saturday of June each year.
“Our mission is to preserve and perpetuate the heritage of Collin County and ice cream is definitely part of our heritage!,” Cindy Johnson, Chestnut Square Executive Director said. “We think the Crank-Off is a great way to kick off the summer here in McKinney.”
While many aspects of the Crank-Off have remained the same (no entry fees for crankers, ice cream freezer trophies for the winners, lots of family fun), some things have had to change as McKinney has grown.
“When the first Crank-Off was held in 1995 McKinney’s population was under 30,000.” Johnson said. “Now the population is over 130,000. For the first 12 years of the Crank-Off volunteers cranked ice cream for weeks prior to the Crank-Off to supplement the contestants’ ice cream. Two years ago we had to cry uncle and call in Henry’s Homemade Ice Cream to provide enough ice cream so that everyone gets a taste. Henry lets us pick nine flavors each year. In 2012 we served 110 gallons of homemade ice cream at the Crank-Off.”
That’s over 3,500 4 ounce servings in four hours!
Another change was to start serving homemade ice cream at 10:00 a.m. and continue serving until the end of the event at 2:00 p.m.
“We used to make everyone wait until the cranker ice cream was ready at 12:00 p.m. and then there was a mad rush for ice cream.” Johnson said. “Each year the lines were getting longer and the kids were getting crankier so we decided to just turn it into an ice cream social with a Crank-Off.”
To enhance the family friendly event, old-fashioned carnival games with prizes were added. Kids can enjoy games with crazy names like milk bottle tumble, lollipop tree, chuck duck and plunk. This year there will be a petting zoo, pony rides and a train for families to ride. Families can enjoy the fun, ice cream and hot dogs while the foodies wait in anticipation of the exotic flavors from the Crank-Off competition. Registration for crankers begins at 9:00 a.m. and cranking ends at 12:00 p.m. when samples are turned in to the celebrity judges and the cranker tent is opened for tasting.
Kate Moore and her Kat House Band will kick off the Crank-Off from the Dulaney House porch. Bud Rager, the singing son of a gun, will provide all the great oldies into the afternoon. Chris Gracy of Main Street Magic will be Master of Ceremonies and entertain with fun magic tricks. Kids activities, sponsored by Primrose of Eldorado and Stone Brook will be available at the Wilmeth Schoolhouse along with free come and go magic shows in the schoolhouse.
Cranker registration begins at 9:00 a.m. on Chestnut Street. Crankers must bring enough ice cream makings to create two gallons of ice cream. Chestnut Square provides the ice, salt and power and the crankers provide their own ice cream freezers. There is no entry fee and applications are available online at www.chestnutsquare.org
Admission to the Crank-Off and entertainment is free. Scoops of homemade ice cream are $2, games are $2 and petting zoo, pony rides and train rides are $3. A hot dog, chips and drink is $5. An entry ticket to the crankers’ tent for unlimited tastings is $15 in advance, $20 at the door. Tickets are available at www.chestnutsquare.org