Kris Ryan of K & R Concessions is braving the heat to run five concession stands at this year’s Delaware State Fair. The Harrington resident had a French fry business when he was kid and he’s been a state fair fixture for years.
Q What kind and how many concession trailers do you have?
A We have two French fry trailers, one apple dumpling and ice cream stand, one grab joint and a root beer stand. A grab joint does burgers, hot dogs and cheese steaks. It has a grill in it. Sorry about that, that’s Carney lingo.
Q How did you get into the concession business and what have you learned?
A My family started at the Delaware State Fair in 1969 with a French fry business and I worked there as a child. We bought our first trailer in 1998.
I haven’t learned a lot because I knew everything when I started [my business]. We have learned that the smaller the menu, the better off you are.
Q Do you have any interesting stories?
A Do we have stories. One time, the wing nut came off of the fry cutter because we fresh cut our fries. It came off and fell into the pan of potatoes. We put it in the fry basket and fried it, put it in the pan to be served, and then it was scooped up and served.
The customer brought it back. He said, “You need this?” He was laughing.
It went through four hands and no one saw it.
Q What will you have at the Delaware State Fair?
A There will be five units — two fry trailers, an apple dumpling and ice cream trailer, a root beer stand and last year we opened a produce stand near the grove.
In the south, in Florida, there are a lot of produce stands at the fair. Uncle Wayne sells produce and we thought we’d try it. We didn’t do too much with it last year; it was slow. Some people thought it was a display so we brought it back this year and hopefully it’s going to do better.
Q Where do you take your trailers?
A We travel to West Palm [Beach], Fla., in the winter and work two fairs in Florida from the middle of January to March. The rest are located in Maryland, Delaware and Virginia from the end of March to middle of November.
There’s not really a difference between here and Florida. It’s winter so they’re all down there. It’s about the same crowds. But, when it’s 70 degrees in the winter in Florida, they’re frozen.
Q Does working in your hometown for the Delaware State Fair make it different from other events you’re at?
A Yes, because it is nice to go back where we started and be able to visit with friends.
Q What is involved with getting everything ready? For example, do you have to order pounds and pounds of food?
A Lots of cleaning, setting up, landscaping and getting stock orders in on time. We buy local potatoes for our fresh cut fries.
Q What’s the hardest thing about having concessions at a fair and what do you like the most?
A The hardest is the weather conditions and what we like the most is getting to meet new people and traveling.
Q What about the workers that serve in the trailers. Is it often a summer job for them and do you ever step behind the counter?
A We have a lot of family and friends that help us all year along with some teenagers who work for us in the summer. Yes, we all work the counter.
Q What’s the best trailer to work, in your opinion, and why?
A I like the big French fry because it is the one we had custom built for us and I like the way it operates. My wife likes the apple dumpling because she likes to bake.
Q What’s the best fair food and why?
A Fresh cut fries, of course. After all that is what we chose to build our business upon.
Q What’s the craziest thing you’ve seen someone put on French fries?
A Sauerkraut, chili and cheese.
Email Jayne Gest at firstname.lastname@example.org