IN THE SPRING OF 1977,
just outside of Louisburg, KS on K-68 Highway, the groundwork began for the opening of a fledgling roadside Apple Cider stand that was to be called the Louisburg Cider Mill.
Planted through the vision of a serial entrepreneur named Emmett O’Rear, and cultivated for decades by visionary leaders Tom and Shelly Schierman and an incredibly loyal team of associates, the Louisburg Cider Mill has grown to become one of Kansas’ premier attractions, and a draw throughout the Midwest.
As is often the case with small businesses, the Louisburg Cider Mill started as an idea that developed into a dream. In 1975, Emmett and Mary O’Rear bought an 80 acre farm outside of Louisburg, Kansas, and it was on this farm that Emmett envisioned developing a business that would process and sell apple cider.
Fashioned after businesses he had seen during the time he lived in Michigan, the original vision was that the apple cider mill would function to be a place and a business that could draw Emmett and Mary’s three daughters home, as well as become a venture that could financially support each of their families. With a great deal of optimism and at least a small dose of naivete, Emmett and Mary began their pursuit.
To help fulfill this dream, Emmett and Mary’s daughter Shelly and her husband Tom were the first to arrive. Tom and Shelly Schierman arrived at the farm in 1977. This would be the year that brought not only the incorporation of the Louisburg Cider Mill, but would also be the first year that cider would be pressed and sold commercially. There was nothing fancy in these early days.
Throughout the Spring of 1977, the barn was renovated — and back then the barn was much smaller (the north addition to the barn was not made until the mid-’80s). Inside of this small barn held all of the equipment needed to crush and press the apples, bottle the juice, make the donuts, and serve and sell juice to customers that would stop by. There was a lot happening in that barn in the early days.
Much of the success that was had in the first year of business was with local people or travelers on the highway who were interested in what was happening at this “roadside cider stand”. Both the quality of the products and the positive word that was spreading locally was driving business in this first year.
It was an article that was published in the Kansas City Times in 1978 that seems to have put the business on a trajectory that was probably surprising even to Emmett O’Rear. A favorable article from a Kansas City Star Entertainment Editor (Shifra Stein) put Louisburg Cider Mill on the map and gave this young business exposure to a whole group of people that were looking for the type of experience that the Louisburg Cider Mill was able to offer.
Shelly’s sisters did come to join the larger family in its efforts to develop the business into a thriving enterprise. Many gains were made in those early years through the efforts of the whole family, but after some twists and turns, Tom and Shelly Schierman were ultimately the people that would take ownership of the corporation and lead it into the thriving brand and institution it has become.
It was through their ongoing efforts that the wholesale manufacturing business continued to develop into what it has become, that the Lost Trail brand of craft sodas was established and developed into a strong regional brand, and that the retail operation continued to grow through expansion of the Country Store, growth of Ciderfest, and the development of the corn maze and pumpkin patch.
In many ways, the Louisburg Cider Mill remains what it was in its first days —
A regional destination that offers customers a unique opportunity not only to taste great apple cider and apple cider donuts, but to see where and how the cider and donuts are made.
Not all things are the same though; unlike the early days, the Louisburg Cider Mill has grown beyond just the manufacture of apple cider and donuts. The Cider Mill continues traditions of hosting the Annual Easter Egg Hunt, the Cider Mill Century Bicycle Tour, Cider Mill Swap Meets, Ciderfest, corn maze and pumpkin patch, and many more events and activities that align with the mission of the business. Now in the third generation of leadership, the Louisburg Cider Mill team is eager to continue the traditions that have been developed in the last 40 years, and is excited for the opportunity to continue the work that has become near and dear to so many.
➤ Our Mission is to create wholesome products and experiences that unite families and add richness to life. It is our sincere hope that we have the opportunity to fulfill our mission with you and your extended family.