Nothing beats the summer heat like a cool ice cream treat. This July, as outside temperatures begin to rise, there are plenty of ways to celebrate National Ice Cream Month. Whether you prefer a cone, sundae or float, ice cream is the perfect dairy treat to enjoy on a hot summer day. My favorite? A strawberry shake, topped off with fresh Wisconsin berries. Stop by your local roadside stand or farmer’s market to enjoy fresh Wisconsin berries all summer long.

Every year, Americans enjoy about 23 pounds of ice cream and other frozen dairy products like sherbet and frozen yogurt. Here in America’s Dairyland, we are no exception. Wisconsin is home to 38 ice cream plants, suppling our communities with fresh, local frozen treats all summer long. Vanilla tops the list as America’s favorite flavor, followed closely by chocolate, strawberry, chocolate chip and butter pecan.

One great way to celebrate our Wisconsin dairy farmers and processors this July is to create an ice cream sundae bar at your next backyard get-together. An ice cream sundae bar is an easy, interactive option for any summer gathering.

Don’t know where to begin? I’ve put together a few tips to kick start your ice cream bar assembly:

• Choose two to three flavors of ice cream. Start with the classics like vanilla and chocolate, and then add in your favorite flavor for a personal touch.

• Look for the Proudly Wisconsin Dairy logo to ensure you are supporting local processors. Every scoop of local ice cream you enjoy scoops dollars back in to Wisconsin pockets.

• The topping selection can definitely be the toughest part! Offer several options and let your guests build their own special masterpiece.

• Offer the usual favorites, including crushed chocolate candies, fresh fruit, brownie bites, sprinkles and flavored syrups.

• For a special Wisconsin flair, include a jar of local maple syrup. Now that summer is here, we can fully enjoy fresh syrup tapped from trees in March.

• Elevate your sundae bar for adults with new options like flavored liquors, toasted coconut or grilled peaches.

Top it all off with some easy homemade whipped cream! This special treat takes just a few minutes with heavy cream, a little powdered sugar and vanilla. Whip all three ingredients together on a medium speed until the cream has a billowy, smooth texture. The rich flavor is well worth the extra effort and your guests will thank you for it!

Your ice cream sundae bar is sure to be a hit at your next gathering. Ice cream is a favorite frozen treat for many, and is staple in American households. This summer, help your guests cool off with a delicious dairy treat, and a Wisconsin original, the ice cream sundae.

Abigail Martin, a 2014 graduate of Milton High School, is the 72nd Alice in Dairyland. Wisconsin’s agriculture ambassador works with media professionals to share the importance of agriculture to Wisconsin’s economy and way of life.

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