You never know what you’ll come across while driving along the highway. Maybe you’ll see the world’s largest skillet or frying pan which are kitschy and fun, albeit not all that exciting. If you’re lucky you’ll happen upon a hidden treasure like I did by the name of Fair Oaks Farms.
Open since 2003 (the farm itself began in 1999) the Fair Oaks shop offers a unique visitor experience. Large windows give way to views of the dairy processing plant where the cheese and ice cream are made. Grand champion and Best in Class awards line the walls and fun knicknacks are displayed throughout the shop ( I picked up a cute cheese and mouse salt and pepper set and a mouse cheese grater). Then there are the displays showcasing the many award-winning cheeses Fair Oaks makes.
I had the opportunity to speak with Jamie Mitchell, Cheese Department Manager, about the various offerings. The Sweet Swiss was the first cheese produced and is still the most popular. This Best of Class winner is mild and nutty with a smooth texture and buttery paste. The perfect all around cheese for both cooking and cheese plate. While this mild cheese is very tasty, Jamie and I are of like minds and love the Royal Blue cheese for its sweet tang and melt-in-your-mouth texture. The recipe has been passed down through generations and brought to the farm by their head cheesemaker.
Another favorite was the 5-year cheddar with a sharp bite and crumbly texture. This cheddar is top-notch and rivals any aged cheddar I have tasted. Both the Royal Blue and 5-year can be purchased at the farm or by phone as they are not always available through the website. Jamie also let me in on a little secret…the farm is looking to expand their cheese offerings to include one that is perfect for crumbling on top of stews or chili. I can hardly wait to try it!
Fair Oaks Farms is a wonderful family destination, providing a Dairy Adventure Center with tours of the barns where visitors can watch calves being born and a 3D movie theater showing the cheese and milk process from start to finish. There is also a kids play place called Mooville. For those looking for some Easter fun, the farm offers a giant Easter Egg Hunt on March 27th for kids of all ages.
Located just off I-65 about an hour outside Lafayette in Fair Oaks, Indiana, Fair Oaks Farm one of the country’s largest family owned dairy farms in the country. With just over 30,000 head of cattle spread between ten barns, the dairy is mindful of organic waste and transforms it into energy by way of anaerobic digestion (a renewable energy source because the process produces a methane and carbon dioxide rich biogas suitable for energy production helping replace fossil fuels).
Interesting fact for all you football fans…Fair Oaks Farms is the official dairy to the Indianapolis Colts!
So next time you find yourself on the lonely stretch of I-65, drop by the farm and tell them The House Mouse sent you. You won’t be sorry you did.
To learn more about Fair Oaks Farms, click here: Fair Oaks Farms