Barely one year old, you crawl into your mothers lap, reaching your small hands towards what she is holding with a childlike curiosity. Giving in, your mother smiles at you and shows you the item: A waffle cone ice cream with a simple scoop of vanilla. Lured by the delicious appearance, you lick the frozen treat. It's an unexpected and new flavor for your young self, yet, you find yourself wanting more.
Fifteen years later, you sit in your seat, filled with anxiety, awaiting the results of the final exam you were so stressed about. Turning over the page, you see the letter “A” in bold on the front of the page, and you are instantly filled with both relief and glee. Meeting up with your friends after class, you bumble with excitement as you go to the local ice cream store. Laughing and enjoying the time spent with your friends, you celebrate the end of the school year with a butter pecan cone.
Decades on, at thirty years old, you have found yourself back in your hometown for your aunt's funeral. You look back on all the years you spent in this town, the time spent with your aunt and the rest of your family, with a bittersweet nostalgia. You and your brother are driving aimlessly through the streets, pointing out all the spots which hold fond memories, when you drive past that ice cream store. Your brother stops the car and you enter the store with a jingle of the door. You still feel the same anticipation as you hover over all the flavors the store offers, and you still feel the same joy you once did when you had that first taste of ice cream. The world moves on and you grow up, but family and ice cream never leave your side.
That very comfort and flavor variety is brought to you by SoCo Creamery, which also supports small dairy farms from our East Coast neighbours in Vermont and New York. I got an opportunity to interview Erik Bruun, the owner of Great Barrington’s favorite ice cream store.
1985 marked the beginning of Erik Bruun’s career in Great Barrington, MA. As a newspaper reporter he became acquainted and involved with the community very quickly. Realising the problems facing the community at the time, Erik Brunn became the founding board president of Railroad Street Youth Project, a youth empowerment organization based in Great Barrington. This non-profit aims to help young people through challenging moments of adulthood and assist in discovering their place in the world.
Erik Bruun shared his high expectations and excitement for what Berkshire Busk! has brought to Great Barrington: “After the last year of being cooped up and looking at life like it is something to ‘go through,’ Berkshire Busk! is a chance to go out and have a sense of celebration through creativity. Not every performance will be life changing, but it’s the small moments in life that are the most important. This festival will add some more depth to the community.” As per usual, I had to ask Erik Bruun for his favorite spot in town (other than SoCo Creamery, of course). He claimed that everyone who comes to Great Barrington has to check out the RiverWalk. The RiverWalk is a historic place and a tribute to the tight-knit and caring community of Great Barrington. After a large fire in the eighties, the town riverbank was filled with debris, which was cleaned up at the Denny Alsop Riverbank Clean-Up with sixteen volunteers in 1988. This turned into a beautiful transformation of the river and an important step in changing people’s attitude towards the community and the public space they shared. A perfect weekend: Friday and Saturday: we jam out at Berkshire Busk, then Sunday, we go to SoCo Creamery and get our favorite ice cream flavor (my personal favorite is Butter Pecan). Then, a stroll across the RiverWalk, taking a moment to look around and appreciate the clean river. And always remember not to litter!