Kim Arehart outside Waynesboro

Kim Arehart, co-owner of Kline's Dairy Bar, has seen business expand to Staunton and Waynesboro since taking over from original owners.

Summer time is a season for swimming, no school and cooling off with ice cream. For Harrisonburg locals and JMU students, Kline’s Dairy Bar is a popular place in the summer to get a frozen custard treat. This year marks the 75th-year anniversary from when Kline’s first opened in 1943, and its owners plan to celebrate a 75-year Anniversary Bash.  

The event will take place 1-4 p.m. this Sunday, July 29 at the Turner Pavilion. Along with the Kline’s ice cream truck, cake will also be served — both will be free as Kline’s way to celebrate. The event is family-friendly and will include live music by the band “Many Nights Ahead,” various other food trucks and activities for kids of all ages such as face painting and a bounce house.

Although the anniversary bash is a one-time event, co-owner and JMU alumni Kim Arehart hopes it’ll help give back to the community and celebrate the store’s accomplishment. Since the Arehart family took over the business in 1979 from the original owners, John and Bess Kline, the business has gone from one location in downtown Harrisonburg to various locations in Staunton and Waynesboro.

“It’s as much a celebration for the community as [it is] for the drive and the energy in this business as it continues to be successful,” Missy Summers, general manager of the S. Main St. location, said.

Even with expansion and changes, Kline’s likes to stick to tradition. It continues to produce custard the same way the original Kline’s used to when it first opened. As a result, the custard remains smooth with no extra air added in the process. The ice cream is made in fresh batches every morning.

“The Kline’s have built a successful business,” Arehart said. “My brother and I have tried very hard to maintain their philosophies.”

Some of the original recipes and flavors John and Bess Kline created are still used to this day, though others have been added or tweaked to keep with the times and people’s interests. Summers says black raspberry is the No. 1 one seller and favorite among customers. For the 75th anniversary, both Harrisonburg locations plan on selling black raspberry the week of the event.

Spear-headed by Arehart, Summers and Alexis Ward, assistant manager, the anniversary bash is a celebration for the Harrisonburg area — although the other locations are promoting it as well. One of the main reasons for hosting this event is for Kline’s to show their appreciation toward the community and its customers for their support.

The Harrisonburg and JMU communities have contributed a considerable amount to the dairy bar’s success. Arehart says many of Kline’s customers were first introduced to the store during their years studying at JMU or surrounding colleges.

“The community has been so good to us,” Arehart said. “We just want to contribute to all of our customers, show our appreciation.”

Kline’s is a hot spot for most JMU students during their years at school. According to Summers, many JMU students are introduced to the store as freshmen — either during the Block Party in the ’Burg that’s held during 1787 August Orientation or on their own time — and continue coming back.

“It’s a good place to hang out,” Julianne Carroll, a sophomore biology major, said. “I’ve been there a couple times with friends. I get the same thing every time.”

Beyond being constant customers, JMU students have helped the Kline’s Harrisonburg locations grow as a business throughout the years. Students have helped the store with several marketing campaigns by sharing information of new promotions through social media. A major portion of the employees at Kline’s are also students.

These student efforts, as well as the business that Harrisonburg locals have provided, are why Kline’s has decided to host the anniversary bash. The event celebrates not only the accomplishments of the business itself, but recognizes the community that helped get it there.

“We wanted to give back to the community who has supported us the last 75 years,” Summers said. “We felt that this was a good opportunity and a way to say thank you.”

Contact Brittany Bell at bellbl@dukes.jmu.edu. For more on the culture, arts and lifestyle of the JMU and Harrisonburg communities, follow the culture desk on Twitter @Breeze_Culture.

Brittany Bell is a senior writer for the Culture section of The Breeze. She’s a sophomore double major in Media Arts & Design, concentration in Journalism, and Writing Rhetoric and Technical Communication.