Hot Cars, Cool Treats

Older Corvettes share prime meadow space with newer models at Skyland Farm

“If you like Corvettes, you’ve got to like ice cream,” explained Bob Fleck, who, with his wife Sheila, is a ­­three-year member of the Rochester Corvette Club and the proud owner of a 1994 green convertible. “Ice cream is practically a food group for Corvette drivers.”

On Saturday, June 18 the club will celebrate Father’s Day, as well as their love of ice cream, with the third annual Keuka Maid Cruise and Luncheon Buffet. After enjoying lunch on the boat, the group will travel to Wagner Vineyards for refreshments, including ice cream, of course.

The corvette outing started in 2003 with only 27 cars, all from the Rochester club. This year, 17 clubs from New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio will join the fun. The members look forward to the event all year, but it’s not just for them; anyone who appreciates the timeless sports car is welcome.

“You don’t have to be a member, you just need to have a love of Corvettes,” Bob said. “It’s not a car show, just a day of cruising, taking in the beautiful scenery, meeting new friends and seeing old ones. We plan to celebrate this way every year over Father’s Day weekend. It’s a great day for families to come out and enjoy.”

And if you’re in the area, you won’t be able to miss it, with a caravan of 200 to 250 Corvettes traveling from Hammondsport to Lodi, ending up at Wagner around 4:15 p.m.

The 2004 event hosted 10 clubs, with 130 cars and 230 people. Leading the pack were the Rochester club’s Don and Karen Coast, driving their 1998 Indianapolis 500 Pace Car. After the Keuka Maid cruise, the group relaxed, shopped and sampled gelato at SkyLand Farm in Hector. Gelato, a specialty at SkyLand Farm, is a soft form of ice cream, made with less air and marked by flavors derived from fresh fruits and spices.

As the 200-year-old barn at SkyLand Farm filled with Corvette and ice cream lovers, the crowd in front of the dessert counter grew. Eager ice cream connoisseurs formed lines, at times as long as 40 people, waiting to try one of the many flavors, like white chocolate lavender, rose and pistachio.

Outside the barn, it was ’Vettes as far as the eye could see. Cars filled the front and side yards, as well as an adjacent field. “Ice cream places just pull Corvettes in; they’re like magnets,” explained Ann Anken, from the Mohawk Valley Corvette Club, as she stood near her 2003 anniversary edition red convertible.

Around the grounds, proud owners either stood near their cars ready to talk shop or mingled among the rows of vehicles admiring the variety on display. Hats, shirts and jackets bearing the Corvette name seemed to be the informal uniform.

The car models represented a span of more than 30 years and included every color in the rainbow, and then some. The story behind some of them could be found in their license plates, with phrases like “GRR803,” “NICE 62,” “ATIME4US,” “YLO ROSE,”  “WRKN4IT,” “OVERBDGT” and “AWESUM79.”

David Johnston and his wife, Cheryl Reeves, both members of the Rochester club, attended in their 1995 convertible. “It’s amazing to get all these people with a common interest together,” David said. “This is a chance to show off a vehicle that you are proud of. I have a ’38 Packard, which I call my ‘show’ car, and my Corvette convertible is my ‘go’ car.”

Talking to Corvette drivers, their pride and affection for the cars is obvious. “Corvettes are more than just cars,” said Karen Coast, whose husband will drive the lead pace car again this year. (Karen’s own Corvette, a ’75, was left home last year.) “They’re a hobby, even a passion for some people. It’s something that my husband and I can enjoy together. We appreciate the club events because it’s so much more fun to go on an outing with a group of people.”

Kathy Burt, president of the Kanandaique Corvette Club, agreed. “My husband and I love to get in our 1974 Stingray and just go. We’ve created a special activity to do without the kids. We have a great time and enjoy the interaction with other clubs.”

Bruce and Cheryl Fisher, from the Corvettes of Buffalo club, waited a long time to fulfill their dream of owning a Corvette. Now cruising for ice cream is a regular summertime activity for them.

“We started looking for a ’Vette the day we mailed the last check for our son’s college tuition,” Bruce explained. “I’ve wanted one since 1957, when I was 8 years old. I just didn’t think it would take this long to get it.”

For more information on the Keuka Maid Cruise and Luncheon Buffet, contact Bob Fleck of the Rochester Corvette Club by phone, 585-338-7205 or e-mail,

Pulling into SkyLand Farm, we were drawn to the unusual garden art set amidst a striking abundance of flower gardens with little paths, one leading over a small waterfall and pond, complete with croaking frogs. Vying for my attention, to the left, a labyrinth and a view of Seneca Lake. To the right, stained glass, a big open doorway out of which came music and two cats. First stop the cats. Once inside, I was greeted by the work of over 300 local, regional, and U.S. artists – handmade and one of a kind! Where to look first? Wool from the sheep next door. Mirrors crafted from Seneca Lake stones. Jewelry. Glass. Wrought iron. Over 50 kinds of essential oil and herb infused soaps. Colorful brooms (I was tempted to sweep). Walls of copper sculptures. Fountains. Beeswax and bayberry candles. Wood art…And pottery…an entire pottery studio filled with pottery!

Then I found the much talked about Bathroom. All I will tell you is that you will emerge inspired and refreshed. Don’t miss it. Beyond the pottery studio, one is drawn by delightful aromas into the Garden Room Café where a two-story oak tree towers over the bakery. A spiral staircase winds amazingly up through the branches for an adventurous trip up to the second floor. It is like walking up through a gigantic natural sculpture. Look for the photos on how it was built. (The other side of the shop offers a conventional, beautifully wrought iron trimmed staircase.)

Back in the Café was an irresistible display of “comfort food for the heart”: European tarts, mousses, cakes, pies, smoothies, salads and sandwiches…and gelato (Italian ice cream). Since it was warm, I decided on gelato for dessert. The 15-plus flavors, are pre-dipped daily and beautifully displayed in colorful rows in an inviting self-serve fashion. A quick lesson: gelato is denser (less air, less sugar, less butterfat). It has a creamier, more intense flavor which is derived from fresh fruits and spices, not flavorings. I was instructed to let it thaw for just a minute so that one can experience and savor the full and surprisingly powerful flavors.

Sitting in the one of the handcrafted booths overlooking Seneca Lake through the big open windows, I found myself wishing I had room to try some of the other amazing desserts such as the Hazelnut Torte or Cinnamon Bread Pudding. My gaze was drawn to the other side of the café where out in the little farm yard there were goats and sheep enjoying themselves just as much. I watched as the agile goats raced up inside a little barn only to appear through a second story window to await food being pullied up to them from below. Seeing this brought out the child in me – I had to go feed them too.

Once outside I found there were also many chickens racing busily about the pasture and stealing bits of feed that the sheep missed. So these were the gals that the laid the beautiful green, brown and white eggs for sale. I read that these chickens eat mostly grass, carrots, squash, little bugs, and whatever fruit falls from the trees. I am sure that these extraordinary eggs made the tuna sandwich that I had for lunch one of the best I’ve ever eaten.

I finally left laden with treats for home, the perfect wedding gift, pottery for myself, a wish list for my husband, and their open hours. This was the perfect (something for everyone) place to bring the parade of relatives scheduled to visit us this summer.

by Heather Merrell
Heather Merrell also enjoys cruising in Corvettes and eating ice cream.

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