Rick Snyder knows how to make an entrance.
Snyder cleared a path through the crowds at the Grange fairgrounds from behind the wheel of a big, yellow and black skid loader that was supporting the weight of exactly a dozen 50-pound bags of potatoes.
To the novice French-fryer, it’s difficult to state objectively if that qualifies as a lot of spuds. The additional 60 bags that his supplier was en route with seemed like less of a toss up.
“He should be here any time,” Rick said.
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His parents, the matriarch and patriarch of Snyder Concessions — not to mention the family that spawned Rick, his siblings Lori, Randy and Jerry, plus a litter of grandkids — impressed upon them the virtues of a surplus.
As one team, we can’t be beat.
That’s something they have in spades at this year’s Grange Encampment and Fair, where close to 25 concession trailers manned by a whole assembly of aunts, uncles, cousins and other representatives from the family tree are celebrating 50 years of feeding the masses at the Centre Hall mainstay.
“As one team, we can’t be beat,” Rick said.
That team dates all the way back to the heyday of Benner Pike Pizza, a Bellefonte eatery owned by Blair and Emogene Snyder.
The couple and their four children would occasionally moonlight at picnics thrown by the local fire companies, making pizzas from the back of a truck.
In 1972, Blair and Emogene took their first concession trailer to a fair in DuBois — where it was promptly destroyed in a flood.
“If that’s not enough to make you want to quit with a brand new trailer and a brand new truck, I don’t know what is,” Lori said.
She owns the pizza trailer located about 6-feet to the right of Rick’s French fry emporium. Lori inherited the mantle of the family’s original signature dish years ago, after her parents decided to take a step back to focus on funnel cakes.
Nobody cares about you like your family does.
This time around, her 13-year-old daughter has joined her behind the counter, taking advantage of the built-in summer job opportunity that comes with being a Snyder.
Another advantage? There’s always someone nearby to call if and when something goes wrong.
“Nobody cares about you like your family does,” Lori said.
Her nephew Preston (Rick’s son) dabbles in French fries, chicken on a stick and roast beef.
The young man and the even younger set of boys he was pushing around the fairgrounds in a stroller represent the net iteration of Snyder Concessions, a future guided by the steady hand of the past.
“I couldn’t imagine coming out here on your own. Trying to start up on my own… You just couldn’t make it,” Preston said.