The art of making ice cream is all in the family for Kirke Porterfield, owner of Kirke’s Homemade Ice Cream in St. Clairsville, Ohio. “In 1926, my grandfather, Herb Walker, began making ice cream. Over time, it grew.” Walker’s parents owned a boarding house in Colerain, and ice cream was one of many selections the family provided to tenants. The skill of making ice cream was shared generationally, and in 1992, Porterfield built and opened Kirke’s.
Kirke's Homemade Ice Cream has been an Ohio Valley favorite for decades. While their shop is based in St. Clairsville, you can find Kirke's at several spots around Wheeling.
Finn is carefully deciding which flavor he will try.
Watson is enjoying his ice cream with sprinkles!
For over thirty years, Kirke’s Homemade Ice Cream has supplied the Ohio Valley with forty-four unique and original flavors created and manufactured on site. Keeping with the family business, Kirke’s wife Judi works diligently with the management of the store as well as with catering, and one of Kirke’s sons, Mark, makes ice cream directly at the store while handling deliveries. With classic flavors such as chocolate, vanilla, and cookie dough, there are also creative standouts like Uncle Fred’s Oatmeal Cookie, Deer Tracks, and Watermelon Vanilla Sherbert. The ice cream has won numerous local, state, and national awards since its opening, including 2002 Best Sorbet in the United States for the original flavor “Pink Champagne,” and Porterfield previously sat on the National Board of Directors for the National Ice Cream Association. “I was able to speak with many across the country who were aiming to get involved in creating an ice cream business.”
Aside from the business itself, Kirke’s provides a family atmosphere that radiates not only to customers but also to employees. According to Kirke, one of the best parts about the business is seeing his employees grow: “The kids that work for us, it’s usually their first job. They come back to see us, and they’re doctors, lawyers, architects. They visit us with their children. That’s really special.”
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While Wheeling has a lot to offer in the food and beverage department, it’s not as easy to find homemade ice cream. Lucky for Wheeling, as Kirke’s has grown, they’ve entered the world of distribution, supplying a variety of locations around the Ohio Valley with their homemade treats. The Wheeling Island Hotel-Casino-Racetrack, Miklas Meat Market, Oglebay, Center Market, SMART Centre Market, Wheeling Coffee and Spice, and Lucky Candies 2 are just a few Wheeling staples that carry Kirke’s in some capacity. In addition to multiple local options, Kirke’s also operates their “Cow Van” food truck which makes regular summer appearances at various events. In fact, you can catch the Cow Van at the Wheeling Downs on Sunday, July 2 for a chance to sample this Ohio Valley staple.
•Karin Butyn was born and raised in Wheeling, WV. A graduate of Wheeling Central, West Liberty University, and Wheeling Jesuit University, Karin spent nearly a decade teaching both English as Second Language and Reading Language Arts. She is currently in her third year as an Assistant Principal for Ohio County Schools. In her free time, she enjoys running and music. She and her husband, TJ, are raising their young sons, Finn and Watson, in Warwood.