The corn dog man's' legacy lives on

Bernard Lind carries on his father's tradition of making deep-fried goodies

From the Lewiston Morning Tribune
September 24, 2017
Article by Josh Babcock of the Tribune

Bernard Lind of Linds Concessions

Bernard Lind, owner of Lind's Concessions, hands off a freshly fried batch of ribbon-cut potato chips to Teyanna Hamilton to serve up to a customer on Saturday morning at their food stand at the Nez Perce County Fair in Lewiston.

Bernard Lind was 7 years old when he started helping his father prepare fried fair food at the Timber Carnival in Albany, Ore., in 1968, and 49 years later he's continuing the family tradition at the Nez Perce County Fair.

Deep-fried candy bars, chocolate-covered frozen bananas, and his father's foot-long corn dogs, the popular fair foods - have created a way of life for Lind, a dedicated concessionaire at the fair for 14 years.

"Dad never dreamed of dipping a candy bar," Lind said. "And funnel cakes were still an East Coast item back then."

While the food has changed in the nearly 50 years Lind has been in the business, he said some things will never change, like his father's foot-long corn dog recipe.

"Dad started that corn dog recipe in 1940," he said. "My dad built the reputation on what corn dogs should taste like; they'll say 'I've never had a corn dog that good.' "

Lind, 55, of Umatilla, Ore., and the owner of Lind's Concessions, remembers the family foot-long recipe keeping the lights on as a child.

Linds Concessions Caramel Apples

He said in 1973 his dad, who was also an electrician, went on strike during the holiday season.

With no Christmas money, Lind's father, Francis Lind, asked a local Payless Drugs owner in Pendleton, Ore., if he could sell corn dogs in the parking lot.

"They didn't buy one or two corn dogs, they bought 30, 40," he said. "I had one lady buy 60."

The stand was supposed to last only one year, but the following Christmas people had wondered what happened to the concessionaire they dubbed "the corn dog man."

Lind said the Pendleton Payless Drugs owner called his father in a panic the next year.

"He said everyone thinks I got rid of 'the corn dog man,' I'm in trouble here and these people want these corn dogs," he said.

Forty-four years later, the Christmas corn dog stand's fryers are still popping, just not in the same spot.

About 10 years ago, Lind said local fast food restaurants began to complain the Christmas corn dog stand was taking their business, so he was forced to sell elsewhere.

"The parents that came down and bought corn dogs from my dad had grown up and had their own kids; it was a two-generation thing," Lind said. "They picketed the mall; the kids got signs and said 'Don't buy anything, the man's been kicked out.' "

Linds Concessions Caramel Apples

Lind was forced to move into a new location that year.

"The town poured out because that had happened," he said. "That was the biggest year I had; they were driving from La Grande, Tri Cities and Hermiston."

Lind said that since he left his original location, he's been passed from parking lot to parking lot. Most recently, he was kicked out of his space this year because of a new marijuana shop opening in Pendleton.

Despite the constant changing of locations, Lind said his customers still manage to find him.

Currently, Lind is still searching for a home for the Christmas corn dog stand this year.

Linds Concessions Caramel Apples

Luckily for those in the Lewiston-Clarkston Valley, there's still one more day — today — to get a bite of Lind's family recipe.

"They don't get any better than this," he said.

At times, when the fryer smoke is wafting in his face, he said he feels his mother and father there with him in the fair tent.

"Hopefully, he's proud," Lind said, noting his father is probably asking why he's done the job so long.

Lind doesn't just steal his father's recipes, he makes his own, too.

Spicy breaded pickles, beer-breaded zucchini slices, garlic mushrooms, chili pepper cheese bites, cream cheese poppers and the ever-so-popular ribbon-cut potato fries are also on the menu.

"Where can you go to get the unique stuff? The deep-fried cauliflower, deep-fried Three Musketeers?" Lind asked. "It makes the fair something special to remember."

He said his work, which demands 46 weeks out of the year, is beginning to take a toll on his body. He said he will get downtime later this fall so he can see his doctor for pain in his feet and legs, but it could mean the beginning of the end for the seasoned concessionaire.

Lind said he might have to cut down his 46-week work year to about 30 weeks, next year.

His father worked until he was in his 70s. He died at 75.

"Concessionaires, they have to be hauled away in an ambulance, they never quit," Lind said.

He said the Nez Perce County Fair, one of his favorites, will be one of the last cut from his list. "It's almost like you're family here," Lind said.

Josh Babcock can be reached at (509) 339-3423, or by email to jbabcock@lmtribune.com

Bernard Lind



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