No 'Kidding' Around at LaClare Family Creamery
Driving through Wisconsin’s countryside, one can typically expect to find fields dotted black and white with cows across the horizon. However, on one family farm in Fond Du Lac County, the site of goats signals a welcome surprise to America’s Dairyland.
In the 1970s, Larry and Clara Hedrich purchased a hobby farm that housed two goats, a dozen chickens, and a pair of peacocks. Soon after, the couple founded LaClare Creamery, where they expanded the state’s dairy market with fresh products sourced from their goats, including their line of Chevre (fresh goat cheese) and original Evalon and Cave Aged Chandoka brands. LaClare Creamery partners with local dairies to get fresh, high-quality milk in order to produce their delicious products right at the creamery.
After LaClare Creamery was named Best in Show at the 2011 World Championship Cheese Contest in Green Bay, the demand for Evalon goat cheese exceeded production capabilities. With more than 40 years in the business, the Hedrich family knew it was time to expand their venture. They soon began their search to acquire necessary funding.
The Hedrichs learned about the WHEDA Participation Lending Program (WPLP) and applied for a loan through their local bank. The program, which launched in 2012, was created to cultivate job growth and pair businesses with lenders by supplementing high capital loans with additional funding at a low-interest rate. WHEDA provided LaClare Creamery with a $750,000 loan participation in their $2.3 million total loan. The funds allowed for the creation of new jobs through the construction of a dairy plant, a shop dedicated to LaClare products, and a café that serves delicious food.
By November 2013, LaClare Creamery’s new facility was officially opened. The updated farm property includes a visitor center, café, shoppe, and garden center, which were opened to draw visitors from all over the state. The Hedrich family has created a family-friendly experience for all to enjoy; offering self-guided tours to learn about their cheesemaking operations, in addition to hands-on playdates with baby goats during the summer months. Dairy lovers are guaranteed to have a baaaa-last experiencing a long-loved Wisconsin tradition.
|Without WHEDA we wouldn't have the facility we have and all our opportunities. We're paving the way for the goat milk industry in Wisconsin.|
|-Clara Hedrich, Co-founder of LaClare Creamery|