Firefighters battle a fire on Feb. 2 at the production facility for Gifford’s Famous Ice Cream at 25 Hathaway St. in Skowhegan. Fire Chief Ronnie Rodriguez said Friday that the fire began when a heat gun was left on while atop a pallet of combustible materials in a walk-in freezer. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel file

SKOWHEGAN — Gifford’s Ice Cream announced Wednesday it is partnering with a network of ice cream production plants to get back in business following the fire last month at its Skowhegan facility.

Lauren Healy, a spokesperson for Gifford’s, said Wednesday that the company has partnered with four production facilities to temporarily produce the company’s ice cream for its “retail, food service and partner stand channels” while repairs are made to the Skowhegan production plant.

Healy said that a few Gifford’s flavors will not be available until the Skowhegan facility is back up and running, “as these partners are unable to duplicate the proprietary process for certain bases and ripples that the family makes in house,” Healy said in a press release.

While these four partners will use Gifford’s recipes and ingredient specifications, to re-open Gifford’s ice-cream stands in Bangor, Waterville, Farmington and Skowhegan on schedule the company will supply their stands with the ice cream of a fifth production partner based in Florida.

“Gifford’s plans to temporarily purchase and serve the Florida-based company’s product at its stands until the Maine-based company can get back to producing its own ice cream,” Healy said.

Gifford’s CEO Lindsay Skilling said of the decision: “This is a family-owned business that we know and trust; they have similar values as ours and they make high-quality products. No other stand in Maine serves their ice cream, and we are so thankful for their help during this challenging time.”


It is unclear how long the repairs will take on the Skowhegan facility, or how much they’ll cost.

The Feb. 2 fire broke out accidentally when a heat gun was left turned on while atop a pallet of combustible material in a walk-in freezer, and damaged the facility’s ice-cream-making equipment so much that the company announced a couple weeks later that it could not continue production at the Skowhegan plant.

“The fire severely damaged the infrastructure of our ice cream production area,” JC Gifford, the company’s chief operating officer, said in the release. “Walls, electrical, plumbing and some machinery has to be replaced. We still have a lot of work to do before we can make ice cream in our factory, and have had to find a temporary production solution.”

Gifford’s ice cream stands will open in Bangor on March 17; in Waterville on March 24; in Farmington on March 31; and in Skowhegan on April 7, serving their partner organization’s product.

It’s not just the ice cream itself that’s new at Gifford’s stands this summer; the company said they’ve made some changes at their Skowhegan and Waterville locations. In Skowhegan, Healy said the company has freshly painted the mini-golf course and updated all signage, and has removed the batting cages from their Waterville location to expand mini-golf and parking in that area.

In their statement, Gifford’s also announced their decision not to re-open their Auburn ice-cream stand this year, after closing it early in 2022.

“The decision was made well before the recent fire at our Skowhegan plant, and was a very difficult one for our family to make,” Skilling said. “We loved being in the Auburn area and are so thankful for our time there.”

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