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Chris Swanson of Corona works the Icee stand at the Dixon Mayfair, Friday. Swanson recently took over his father's business and has worked at fairs since he was 12 years-old. (Aaron Rosenblatt/Daily Republic)

Solano County

Concession operators have love affair with fairs

By From page A3 | May 10, 2014

DIXON — It’s one of the smallest concession stands at the Dixon May Fair. On hot days, it’s also one of the busiest.

That’s the way owner Chris Swanson, aka Mr. ICEE, likes it.

A one-man operation in an 8-foot-wide, cup-shaped booth, Swanson can fill up the colorful ICEE cups with frozen lemonade, cherry or blue raspberry flavors in seconds flat.

The Southern California resident was destined for the business, starting the fair circuit with his father when he was 12. He took over the stand from his father a few years ago.

Working under the name Event Food Services, Swanson, 37, also owns two other ICEE stands as well as one that serves hot dogs and the frozen treat.

About 80 percent of his sales are for children, even when being purchased by an adult, Swanson said.

Cherry and blue raspberry and a combination of the two are the most popular. Swanson’s favorite is the a mixture of cherry and lemonade.

The father of 7-month-old boy-girl twins, Swanson spends about eight months each year traveling to fairs and events. He and his brother are sharing the duties at the Dixon May Fair, working four-hour shifts. The stand is open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.

“I hope to always be Mr. ICEE,” Swanson said the line continued to grow in front of his stand.

Business was good, even with a breeze keeping temperatures in the 70s. In about six hours, Swanson had already served up about 350 ICEEs.

A few stands away, Teddy Archer and Randy Youngs kept fairgoers happy with freshly popped kettle corn.

Working in an 18-foot-long by 8-foot-wide trailer, there wasn’t a lot of room to maneuver as already-filled bags were stacked and a huge kettle and mixing bin occupied about half the space.

A maximum of three can fit in the trailer, said Dynamite Kettlecorn owner Teddy Archer. The business is based in Ukiah.

Like Swanson, Archer, 28, started working the fair circuit as a teen. He served up everything from fish and chips to funnel cakes.

He started Dynamite Kettle Corn five years ago in a small tent that now travels with him to hold the supplies. On an average weekend day, Archer estimated he sells about 600 to 700 bags of kettle corn and caramel corn.

Youngs, a neighbor, takes vacation from his FedEx job to work with Archer, he said.

After a short time in the trailer, near the kettle, Youngs said he begins to smell pretty sweet, like cookies.

He briefly joked about creating a kettle corn cologne. After giving the idea a second thought, he said, “we are country boys. We don’t wear cologne.”

The fair is open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday and noon to 11 p.m. Sunday. The fairgrounds are at 655 S. First St.

For ticket information and schedule of events, visit www.DixonMayFair.com.

Reach Amy Maginnis-Honey at 427-6957 or [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/amaginnisdr.

Amy Maginnis-Honey

Amy Maginnis-Honey

Amy Maginnis-Honey joined the staff of the Daily Republic in 1980. She’ll tell you she was only 3 at the time. Over the past three decades she’s done a variety of jobs in the newsroom. Today, she covers arts and entertainment and writes for the Living and news pages.

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