A sweet spot for NC Agritourism

by | May 4, 2023

#EscapeWithNCAg is a year-long series that will focus on agritourism across North Carolina. Many farms, wineries and other agricultural businesses in our state offer events such as tours, yoga, educational classes, pick-your-own events and festivals, to entertain the public and teach them about our state’s number one industry. Each Thursday, we will feature a new site for you to visit with friends or family. Stay tuned and learn how to escape the stresses of life by diving into agriculture! 

With over 100 years of experience in the dairy industry, the Lutz family knows how to make high-quality and delicious dairy products, including over twenty flavors of ice cream! Located in Lincolnton, Riverbend Creamery & Dairy Farm is home to about 600 Jersey cows that bring visitors from all over the state to learn about the ins and outs of the dairy industry. “My mom, Bridgette, and dad, Corey, both grew up on dairy farms, met at a cattle show, fell in love and started this dairy together, so needless to say, it has always been in their blood,” said Olivia Pearson, daughter of Bridgette and Corey. “My brother and I went to college at N.C. State University and majored in Agriculture Science before coming back to work on the farm, but it is the true definition of a family operated business.” All cattle at Riverbend Creamery are grass grazed all year because the family takes pride in completely utilizing the land and ensuring their animals get the nutrition they need.

In 2014, the family began exploring the idea of offering agritourism events on the farm to showcase the hard work that goes into both the cattle operation and the creamery. “We started by offering farm tours and field trips because we wanted to educate people on the importance of the North Carolina dairy industry and explain what our mantra, ‘from our grass to your glass,’ truly means and entails,” Olivia said. However, it wasn’t until the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020 that the Lutz family truly jumped headfirst into the agritourism field by opening the creamery. “Prior to the opening of our new creamery building in 2021, we mostly toured individuals around the farm and allowed them to learn about the process of how we made our dairy products,” Olivia said. “The opening of the creamery allowed us to expand that education to include a viewing window for people to watch the process, a storefront to offer ice cream and other local products and provide more space to host events throughout the year for the public.” Farm tours are offered every Saturday in the months of March through October and are twenty-five minutes in length. Reservations are not required for these tours but do cost $5 per person to attend. Field trips are typically offered on weekdays and are by reservation only.

In June, Riverbend Creamery is hosting their very first Dairy Days and Market at the farm, which will be the first of several new events they plan to host this year. Dairy Days will be an opportunity for the public to come and learn about the farm through tours and the Mobile Dairy Classroom, while also enjoying food trucks, tractor displays, ice cream and bouncy houses. “Not only will visitors get to tour the milk parlor, tanks and see the baby calves, but we will also walk them through the equipment on our farm and talk about the progression of technology and how that has helped us grow tremendously through the years,” Olivia said. “It will be a fun time for friends and families to bring the kids and enjoy a beautiful, fun-filled day on the farm.” Their farm store will also be open all day where visitors can purchase products from the farm as well as other surrounding farms, including milk, half & half, heavy whipping cream, beef, bread, jellies, pickles and pints or quarts of ice cream. There is no cost to attend the Dairy Day event, but the $5 charge for tours will remain in effect. Ice cream is also a separate purchase upon attendance.

Riverbend Creamery has twenty-two permanent flavors of ice cream, including chocolate, salted Oreo, black cherry, and Jersey tracks. They also release seasonal flavors throughout the year, such as peach and strawberry. Olivia gave us the inside scoop on this summer’s new flavor, which will be banana pudding!

By attending events at Riverbend Creamery, visitors can learn that there is a reason and a purpose for everything on the farm. “We tailor our tours to each group depending on age and experience,” Olivia said, “so that everyone walks away learning something that they didn’t know about farming or the dairy industry overall. Everything we do here has a purpose, from separating the baby cows from their mothers to how we make the dairy products and what goes into them. Being able to educate people from across the world on where their food comes from while allowing them the opportunity to see it unfold before their eyes, is incredibly rewarding.”

Watching people fully understand the work that goes into getting milk from the cow to the glass is a passion that lives in the heart of every member of the Lutz family and flows through all that they do on the farm. From taking care of the baby calves to cutting silage and making dairy products, the family enjoys starting and ending the day together. “We make core memories here as a family, which makes this business all the more special,” Olivia said. “Being able to share that with others and provide a place where other families can make core memories as well is simply the cherry on top of the ice cream sundae.” Follow along on Riverbend Creameries social media pages for updates on the Dairy Days and Market coming up in June and be sure to take your family for a fun-filled day on the farm!