Central Park was filled with all sorts of craft and food vendors during Tuesday afternoon’s Christmas Market. One of those vendors was Dad’s Old Fashioned Kettle Corn and Pork Skins based out of Maud. This was the second time they’ve been to the Christmas Market, and owner Rick Smith said he’s already planning on coming back next year.
“I’m retired, and this is what I do now,” Smith said. “Today we’re here. Yesterday we were in Wewoka. Friday and Saturday we’ll be at the FireLake Arena. Sunday we’ll be at the Elk’s Lodge (in Shawnee). Next week we’re going to Holdenville and then back to Wewoka.”
Smith said he’s been cooking all of his life, but he’s only got into kettle corn more recently. He shared the story of how his business came into being. He said after graduating culinary school, he got a job as a chef at an Oklahoma City hotel, but it wasn't all he hoped it would be.
“I didn’t like it,” Smith said. “I hated the way they made you cook. You have to do it their way regardless, so when my contract was up, I was gone.”
Smith started doing kettle corn because his son was interested in it. After helping his son get a business started, he ended up buying his own equipment.
“I bought my own tin and set it up and started doing what I do,” Smith said. “Then I kept saying that I wanted to add in the pork skins because I’ve been doing that since I was a kid, and I love to make them. So I added that in.”
Smith said he eventually bought out his son’s business. He then bought out three more kettle corn dealers.
“By the time I got through, it made me the largest kettle corn and pork skin dealer in the state of Oklahoma,” Smith said. “I went and bought a semi to pull all my trailers with, and I’ve got all kinds of stuff to pull.”
In addition to selling kettle corn and pork skins, Smith was also selling candy bars to support a charity in the Shawnee area known as Santa’s Kids.
“We raise money to buy Christmas presents for kids whose families can’t afford it,” Smith said. “We’re a small group, but we’ve been doing this for a long time. We raised a lot of money last year, and we were able to buy a lot of gifts.”
Smith contributes to the cause by selling candy bars, and he also collects items for their annual fundraising auction where he acts as auctioneer. He said he enjoys his time working for charity and running his business.
“My grandmother told me something and she was the kind of lady who was up working on the roof when she was 86,” Smith said. “She said, ‘boy, if you ever lay down, you’ll die,’ and I believed her. So this is just what I do because if I weren’t doing this I’d just be sitting up at the house and staring at the computer screen.”