Vendors mark anniversaries at Heritage Days|
Friday, July 13, 2012
By Terry Whetstone Staff Writer
PHILIPSBURG - As Heritage Days celebrates its 15th year, three food vendors do as well, as they, too, have been here the entire time.
The vendors include Cheryl Christine of Bald Eagle, owner of Cheryl's Tater Hut; Steve Kozak of Philipsburg, owner of Kozee's Monkey Bread and John and Anna Dixon of Houtzdale, owners of the Hungry Hippo Stand.
For Kozak, he has been at Heritage Days even before it was Heritage Days. He said when there was a festival in Philipsburg before the 1998 event that is now Heritage Days, he was a part of it.
Kozak said he told a friend he was looking for a way of making some extra money on the side and his friend told him to start a concession stand.
"So I did some brain storming and came up with this stand," Kozak said. "That was in 1993."
Today, his trailer draws in a ton of people, but it wasn't always that way.
"That first year I couldn't give it away," he said of the monkey bread. "Then the second year it started to catch on a little, but that third year, it just took off."
He said the bread is made from a family recipe but he isn't really sure how much monkey bread has gone out the window at the event.
This is the 20th year Kozak has been in the business, and to honor him, his long time friend, Cheryl Christine, got him a cake and balloons.
"We're doing this to honor your 20 years in the business of making monkey bread," she said Thursday afternoon.
Kozak was surprised and never expected it, especially since he didn't realize it had been 20 years.
"We're all like family here," he said. "When I started out, I was having trouble with a pop machine and some guy stopped and asked what was wrong. I told him and he said he'd be back, and about 15 minutes later, six guys showed up and helped get the machine running."
He said he was really surprised and thought it might be a "cutthroat" type of deal with other travelers, but it was completely the opposite.
Christine got into the fresh-cut fry making business because it was a dream of her husband, Paul's. She lost him in 2010 after a bout with cancer.
"I really didn't feel like going on," she said. "But thanks to Kozee, he's been a huge help to me and he's kept me going." Christine said this is her 17th year in the business and even if she didn't make out OK at Heritage Days, she would still be there.
"It's so great to work with this committee," she said of the Heritage Days group. "They accepted me that first year, when they started and we're still here. They really take pride and meticulously plan this event every year to make sure the vendors are comfortable."
The little red stand with the yellow strip is the Hungry Hippo stand, owned and operated by John and Anna Dixon. They got into the business in 1993 or 1994. Anna Dixon said some friends talked them into building the concession stand, and then they (the friends) backed out.
"We've been doing it ever since," she said.
She said their specialty is fresh squeezed lemonade and funnel cakes.
"We used to do other things too," she said. "But it got to be too much, so we just stayed with what our two best sellers were."
She said while they enjoy traveling to the festivals and all of the friends they have made and get to see each year, they simply can't do the big fairs. She said they just travel to Heritage Days, Houtzdale Days, and similar events throughout the area.
Dixon said Wednesday was the busiest opening day she and her husband have ever had at Heritage Days.
"It's a little slow today," John Dixon said of Thursday afternoon. "But I welcome that after yesterday."
Jim Pollock, chairman of the Heritage Days group said Kozak and Christine have been in the same spot every year.
"We appreciate their loyalty," Pollock said.
He said as time went by, the group and the vendors have become great friends.
"When Cheryl lost her husband, we felt like we lost a member of our family," Pollock said. "And there is a couple from DuBois who set up every year, but they aren't here this year, due to health problems. We're one big family here."
He said Heritage Days is a homecoming each year.
"And that's what Heritage Days is all about," he said.