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HUNTINGTON — Locals already know that some of the best ice cream in the country can be found right here in the Tri-State at Austin’s Homemade Ice Cream.

“There is nothing better than homemade ice cream from Austin’s,” said Hannah Ryder, of Lesage, while ordering some ice cream at Austin’s at The Market in downtown Huntington. “The chocolate brownie ice cream is my favorite. They have a frozen hot chocolate that is to die for, as well.”

Validating local fans’ reviews, Austin’s was recently awarded a blue ribbon for their chocolate ice cream and a red ribbon for their vanilla ice cream from National Ice Cream Retailers Association (NICRA).

“For our chocolate we scored 41 out of 43 points and the vanilla we scored 38 out of 43,” said Taylor Strickland, one of the co-owners of Austin’s. “There were only eight blue ribbons awarded out of the hundreds that were submitted. In the vanilla category no one got a blue this year, so we are very proud of the red ribbon as well.”

Every year hundreds of ice cream business owners and those looking to get into the frozen dessert business travel across the country to attend the largest ice cream retailers’ 87th annual event, which judges ice cream flavor and quality.

The 2020 sensory judging was conducted under the direction of Dr. Tonya Schoenfuss at University of Minnesota, a trained and experienced dairy scientist, and sampled by ice cream business owners from around the country.

“This was the first time we have submitted to the competition,” Stickland said. “We were competing against other ice cream businesses from all over the country, so this is a prestigious honor. It’s quite an honor to be acknowledged by industry experts in a national setting.”

For more than 70 years, the family-owned homemade ice cream shop originating in Ceredo has been serving up tasty treats to loyal customers from near and far.

“My brother Tim Ruff does a wonderful job making all the ice cream by hand and it’s all my grandmother’s recipes that we continue on,” Strickland said.

Strickland’s grandmother, Joyce Snyder, bought the then-smaller shop in Ceredo in 1983.

“She passed it on to my mother, Kim Adkins, and my uncle, Kevin Snyder,” Strickland said. “My mom has given me and my brother Tim ownership as well. We all continue to carry on the traditions of my grandmother and we give her all the credit for these awards.”

Phil Nelson, the developer of The Market, said he believes Austin’s Handmade Ice Cream’s secret ingredient is love.

“Love of product, love of customers and love of staff. Day by day, month by month, year by year, the same family has been making their product by hand for 70 years,” Nelson said. “Great new flavors are constantly being added to the all-time favorites to keep customers happy.”

Nelson added that Austin’s is an anchor to The Market.

“They bring in a lot of people who become acquainted with our other stores,” he said. “Taylor and Tim are exceptional people who carry on their grandmother’s legacy. They are great partners and friends to all.”

Just in time for Christmas, Austin’s is also offering ice cream pies. For more information, visit them on Facebook or Instagram.

Follow reporter Fred Pace at Facebook.com/FredPaceHD and via Twitter

@FredPaceHD or email him at fpace@hdmediallc.com.