Written by: Tim Tesconi
Screamin' Mimi's, the iconic Sebastopol ice cream shop owned and operated by Maraline “Mimi” Olson, is the recipient of the 2022 Shining Star Award given by the Youth Ag & Leadership Foundation of Sonoma County.
The Shining Star Award annually recognizes a person or business that has made significant contributions to the Youth Ag & Leadership Foundation and the young people involved in Sonoma County’s 4-H and FFA programs. For the last 15 years, Screamin’ Mimi’s has donated its premium hand-crafted ice cream as the featured dessert at the Youth Ag & Leadership Foundation’s annual barbecue and fund-raiser. This year Screamin’ Mimi’s ice cream will again top off the dinner served at the non-profit’s event, which will be held Sept. 24 at Richard’s Grove and Saralee’s Vineyard at the La Crema Wine Estate in Windsor.
In selecting the Shining Star Award, the Youth Ag and Leadership Foundation’s board of directors praised Olson for her continued and enthusiastic support in helping to make the annual fund-raiser such a successful event. Screamin’ Mimi’s signature ice cream delights guests year after year, adding to the event’s pleasurable overall experience.
Olson said she is proud and honored to donate her ice cream to support the Youth Ag & Leadership Foundation and the important work it does. Olson said her two sons, Carter, 23, and Reid, 18, were both 4-H club members, taking projects in chickens, rabbits, archery and cooking. They also were regulars at 4-H Camp, relishing the summer time experience at the rustic campgrounds in the Los Pasadas State Forest in Napa County.
“I love everything about 4-H and what it does for kids in terms of citizenship, leadership and community service. Young people get so much from 4-H and become the kind of citizens who build our local community and guide our future,” said Olson.
Olson and her husband Kurt Olson opened Screamin' Mimi's in 1995 in downtown Sebastopol, becoming a mecca for ice cream lovers from around Sonoma County. On a hot summer day, patrons line up around the block waiting to get favorite flavors like Mimi’s Mud, a delectable mixture of coffee, chocolate chips, cookies and fudge. It’s Olson’s own recipe and Screamin’ Mimi’s signature and most popular flavor.
Olson puts in 10-hour days to maintain the quality that is Screamin’ Mimi’s hallmark. She has 40 employees, mostly young people holding part-time jobs while going to school. For many it’s their first job and paycheck.
Olson grew up in the Hudson Valley of New York and owned a vintage-clothing store for eight years in the area before moving to Sonoma County 27 years ago to follow her dream of making gourmet ice cream.
“The Hudson Valley is surprisingly very similar to Sonoma County. There is real agriculture, the 4-H program is strong and there are many artisan food producers. Like here, people care about the land,” Olson said.