They may have just opened the Durbin Ice Cream Depot in July, but owners David and Pam Vanorsdale are already finding ways to give back to the community, which recently became their home.
The couple discovered Pocahontas County on their many motorcycle trips around the state. Eventually, they chose to park their bikes and stay awhile.
They left Berkeley County for the small town life, but found themselves, and their grandchildren, missing activities they participated in back home. In time for fall and Halloween, the couple have decided to host a pumpkin patch at East Fork Campground in Durbin.
“We decided to do the pumpkin patch to give kids something to do in the town,” Pam said. “My grandson – we have him every other weekend – he said, ‘Grammy, where’s the pumpkin patch around here?’ and I was like, ‘I don’t know.’ There’s just millions of things the kids can do back in Berkeley County, and so I started to ask around where the pumpkin patches were.”
When Pam realized there weren’t any pumpkin patches in Pocahontas County, she decided it was time for there to be one. She discussed her idea with campground owners Mark and Marsha Kane who were immediately on board with the idea, which set things in motion.
“I started calling around to the different pumpkin farms back in Berkeley,” she said. “We’re looking into getting at least four hundred pumpkins donated, to begin with, for the pumpkin patch. We already had one gentleman, Tim Morris, he had some pumpkins in his garden and he’s brought up eight.”
The pumpkin patch will be open on Saturdays, October 10, 17, 24 and 31. Along with having pumpkins for kids to chose from, the Vanorsdales plan to have family-oriented activities.
“We thought we’d put a little booth up for a balloon toss game where they bust a balloon and get a prize,” Pam said. “Then we’ll do face painting for the kids and we’re going to have a bounce house. We have a train that we made out of a riding mower years ago, and we’re going to bring that up to give kids train rides.”
Each Saturday will also have a special event which will involve the adults. October 10 is a bake-off; October 17, a soup tasting contest; October 24, a dessert walk; and October 31, trunk-or- treat in the campground field.
Contestants in the bake-off and soup tasting will pay an entry fee. Random testers will try the items and vote with change. A nickel is for okay; a dime, good; and a quarter, really good. At the end of the tasting, the change will be counted to determine a winner. The winner will receive half of the combined donations and entry fees.
For the trunk-or-treat, volunteers will decorate the trunks of their vehicles and hand out candy as students trick-or-treat.
All the funds raised during the events will be used for a Secret Santa store the Vanorsdales will have at the Ice Cream Depot.
“Hopefully it will do well and maybe we’ll have money in a fund so we can do this next year and add a little more,” Pam said. “We’re excited and even if we get ten people to show up, you know what, it was something we did for the kids – those kids will have fun.”
The special events – bake-off, soup tasting, dessert walk and trunk-or-treat will be 2 to 4 p.m. At 4 to 6 p.m., there will be a coloring contest for the kids.
In addition to planning the pumpkin patch, the Vanorsdales are serving up home cookin’ at the Ice Cream Depot which has much more than just the frozen treat from its name.
Daily specials, and diner staples including pizza, chili dogs and Reubens mingle with tasty treats on the menu.
“The Reuben is a real Reuben,” Pam said. “We have to get the special Jewish rye bread. Then the chili dogs, I make the homemade chili for the dogs. We do have macaroni and cheese. I don’t do homemade baked macaroni and cheese because the kids like the Kraft macaroni and cheese. Our lasagna does really well. It’s all homemade.”
If drawn by the name for an ice cold treat, visitors won’t be disappointed. Hot fudge sundaes, peanut butter brownies and banana splits are just the tip of the iceberg.
“Durbin is home of the Flurbins,” Pam said. “It’s the same thing as a Blizzard, we just call it a Flurbin. We had to get a special machine for that to keep them thick. We use a special cream. We don’t use milk.”
When it came to creating the menu, the couple had one rule – keep it simple.
“We didn’t want anything fancy,” Pam said. “You’ll see everything is old-fashioned. When people leave here, they are very happy and they say ‘we’ll be back.’ When you see your regulars coming back, you know it’s good.”
The Durbin Ice Cream Depot is open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday; and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.