All's Fair for Concessionaires

From the Yakima Herald Republic
Wednesday, October 1st, 2008
Article by Adriana Janovich
Photos by Kris Holland

Bernard Lind moves his pop stand into place while setting up for the Central Washington State Fair Thursday, September 25, 2008. Lind and his wife, Julieanne Lind, travel 46 weeks per year on the fair and festival circuit.Bernard Lind didn't listen to his dad.

"My dad told me, son, don't try to make a living out of this. Don't do this as a real job," recalls the concessionaire, setting up his stand, a circular unit resembling a giant mug of root beer, on the afternoon before the start of the Central Washington State Fair. But, "I was born in it," the 46-year-old says. "I was raised in it."

And here he is, in a corner of Kiddie Land, surrounded by rides mostly for those under a certain height or weight, doing just what his dad warned him not to. He's selling soft drinks, A&W Root Beer floats made with hand-scooped root beer ice cream, and chocolate-covered bananas rolled in peanuts, M&Ms or cake sprinkles. This is his "real," full-time, on-the-road-46-weeks-of-the-year job. And this is his third year in a row vending at the Yakima fair, where his dad first sold snacks in the 1950s and '60s. This year's fair runs through Sundayat Yakima's State Fair Park. It isn't Lind's top moneymaker. But it's home. And, "When we go home, we really want to stay home," he says.

During this fair, Bernard and Julieanne Lind -- the husband-and-wife team behind Lind's Concessions -- get to sleep in their own bed, not in some hotel or motel. They live in Cowiche when they're not on the road, traveling from fair to festival, rodeo to balloon rally, throughout Washington, Oregon and Idaho, with their three Italian greyhounds, Zippy, Wednesday and Misty.
"I love going down roads I haven't been down before," Bernard Lind says of life on the road. "I love seeing the sights of different areas. "But, it's very hard." The hours are long. The Linds put in 12-, 14- and 16-hour days. And the weather is unpredictable. They've peddled ice cream floats and corn dogs in snow, windstorms, rain, hail and temperatures upwards of 100 degrees. Plus, it's competitive.

"You've got to be tough in this business," says Julieanne Lind, 42. "And strong."
The secretary, buyer and "gopher" for Lind's Concessions grew up in Prosser, and loves her job. She inherited life on the road when she married Bernard. "I meet a lot of people, and I get to go a lot of places that I probably wouldn't if I had a different kind of job," she says.

They get about three weeks off at Christmastime, another few weeks here or there. But most of the time, "It's go, go, go," Bernard Lind says. "We're in that non-stop mode right now." The couple used to travel to more states -- Arizona, California, Montana -- but they've cut back this year due to high fuel prices. In terms of overhead, fuel costs the most, followed by lodging, labor and supplies, Bernard Lind says.

The second-generation independent concessionaire has been dubbed the "Corndog Man" at other events, and his dad the "Corndog King." The late Francis Lind started the family business in 1949, according to the Lind's Concessions Web site,

The Linds have also worked the Spring Festival in Moses Lake, Wash. and the Harvest Faire in Sisters, Ore. They've done the Pendleton Round-Up and the Hood River Valley Harvest Festival, the Nez Perce County Fair in Lewiston, Idaho and Cornucopia Days, Kent, Wash. -- just to name a few.
The menu changes depending on the event and includes everything from cheese-filled corn dogs and beer-battered onion rings to funnel cakes, elephant ears, cotton candy, curly fries and nachos.
In addition to their 12-foot high, custom-made root beer mug unit, they also have four more stands, including a root beer barrel.

From mid-November through Christmas Day, they park their mobile corndog stand in downtown Pendleton, a tradition Francis Lind started some 37 years ago.

Even though his father advised him against this career path, Bernard Lind says he can't really imagine doing anything else.

"I've been in it too long," he says. "I've been doing this my whole life. I like being my own boss."

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