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    Eat & Swig

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    You can’t miss the Barrel of Fun. A giant, literal, red-and-white striped barrel sits next to the street. The barrel is shaded by trees, accompanied by a couple rows of picnic tables sheltered by an awning that gives off a tone that says, “Bring your family, get comfortable and stay awhile.”

    Within walking distance of McNeely Lake Park in Okolona, it’s a perfect spot to take the kids to cool down, or to hang out after you and the boys spend a long day fishing.

    The Barrel, as most people know it, has a selection of food like hamburgers, hotdogs and pretzels, but that’s not what you go for. The ice cream, along with the menu, is unlike most ice cream places because of the simplicity. You won’t find yourself confused or wondering how to order. I’ve been going to the Barrel for at least 12 years, and the menu has always been the same, which you can see from the faded pictures and lettering that sit on the two-sided sign underneath a big ice cream cone. It looks delicious, but you can’t eat this one — plastic isn’t exactly a tasty cone flavor.

    You can go for the few soft serve flavors or hand-scooped flavors like chocolate, vanilla or, if you’re feeling up for it, a flavor called Just Peachy. There are also more adventurous flavors like “Super Kid,” a mix of blue vanilla, lemon and raspberry, making it the most colorful ice cream on the menu, or bourbon praline pecan fudge. Of course, you have your options of a cake cone, a waffle cone or a cup all for under $4.

    Nothing on the menu is over $5, so it won’t put a dent in your debit card, especially because the Barrel is cash only. Hit the ATM before you come chill out with one of their five snow cone flavors.

    Everyone has their favorite way to eat ice cream, but I like to drink mine. I usually go for something a little less messy and get a chocolate milkshake. It’s a real classic. Never too thick to drink right from the straw when you get it, served in a Styrofoam cup so it doesn’t melt too fast.

    The classic ice cream place doesn’t disappoint with a variety of sundaes to choose from, like strawberry and hot fudge and the forever classic, would-be-a-digrace-to-call-yourself-an-ice-cream-place-without-it banana split. It’s the perfect choice the first time you visit the Barrel.

    Open and owned by Mark Beam since 1994, the Barrel operates from April 1 to Oct. 1. You might want to come before the end of May when school lets out, and before 3 p.m. on weekdays. After 3 p.m. or within the summer months, you’ll be sitting with a crowd. Check out their Facebook page for more info.

    Cover photo by Megan Brewer

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