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Jun 22

World's Largest Collection Settles Into New Home

Posted on June 22, 2017 at 10:46 AM by Beth Shumate

Clyde at end of hallMoving isn't always fun. But when it's a move that gives you breathing room - or in the case of a certain unusual collection, more room to crank - it's a very positive experience. Case in point is a move taking place at Chestnut Square Historic Village. 

Back in 2009, Chestnut Square remodeled a duplex, creating a much-needed visitors center and staff offices. There was also a specially-designed room built in the visitors center to house a very special exhibit - the largest collection of ice cream freezers in the world! 

A Little Background Please!

Before we talk more about this move, let's take a small step back in time for some background.

Downtown business owner Clyde Geer and his family had always enjoyed making homemade ice cream with their kids and grandkids. Being the owner of an antique store, Clyde often saw ice cream freezers come through the store and when he saw one he particularly liked, he'd buy it and take it home. Before long, his collection grew to roughly 100 of the machines in addition to scoops, bowls and other vintage ice cream-themed items. 
ice cream scoops

 In 1994, Clyde and his father-in-law Killis Melton, who was regularly found at the front counter of Geer's downtown store, were having a discussion about how much Killis loved chili. In the summer, no one wants to cook and eat chili, Killis told his son-in-law; it's just too hot out. But Killis wanted to try a cook-off type contest, so why not ice cream?
And so began the tradition of the annual Killis Melton Ice Cream Crank Off.

This event caught the attention of Food Network, so a crew attended the festival and televised it. The program caught the attention of a gentleman ("Doc" Wilson) in Fayetteville, Arkansas, who shared Clyde's affinity for ice cream freezers. In fact, his collection numbered more than 200 at that time, verified by Guinness Book of World Records as the world's largest collection of ice cream freezers. The two men became good friends, and a decade or so later when Doc became ill, he willed his collection to Clyde, knowing it would be in caring hands. 
Little girls_jalapeno ice cream_by MCVB
Geer stored a portion of the collection in a glass, walk-in display case, but when Clyde retired and closed his store, he needed to find the collection a new home. The same year (2009) that Chestnut Square opened its Visitors Center, the annual Killis Melton Ice Cream Crank-Off also moved from the downtown square to the historic village, so it just made sense to move the ice cream freezer collection to the historic village, too!  
Back to Today
Visitors to Chestnut Square will have the chance to get a better look at Doc and Clyde's Ice Cream Freezer Museum now that it is being moved from the village's visitors center to the adjacent Dixie's General Store. We can't think of a better time to examine these pieces of sweet history than during the Ice Cream Crank Off on Sunday, June 25. 
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