As the Texas State Fair continues in its final full week we felt it time to actually try a few Fair staples and venture out onto the Midway with a loosened belt. No visit to the Fair is complete without a visit to Fletcher’s Corny Dogs. We searched around for Gregory True, the manager of the large Fletcher stand that sits perched next to Big Tex, but we were told the 18 year veteran of the Fair was hospitalized and missed the Fair this year.
With a heavy heart we continued our search to the stand located on Admiral Nimitz Drive that is located very near the petting zoo. There we found a life-time Fletcher’s worker, Michael Karney who considers life at the Fair to be his calling.
We asked Karney (great Fair name by the way) a few questions about his life as a corny dog worker.
CraveDFW: There seems to be a mire of controversy as who invented a corny dog. Help us with that.
Michael Karney: Skip Fletcher, my boss, his father invented the corny dog in 1942. The first year they had them out here they didn’t sell, they actually had to give them away. The batter has not changed much at all since 1942. The meat has since been customized and is made specifically for Fletcher’s. You can’t get them any where else except here, Texas Motor Speedway and a few small events through out the year.
CraveDFW: So there are still Fletcher’s running these stands at the fair?
Karney: Yes! They are very hands on owners and very nice people. I have known them my entire life.
CraveDFW: How did you get involved with corny dogs?
Karney: My mother worked out here for over thirty years. I was raised out here and the Fair was part of my life. Always has been, probably always will be. I even have a corny dog tattooed on my leg. I started 16 years ago working out here. I was still in grade school. I was out here one day and Bill Fletcher asked me if I wanted to work a weekend. I did and he paid me $89.00. I thought I was the richest kid in the world.
CraveDFW: It seems like a lot of fun, but I bet it’s hard work.
Karney: Yes. When it comes to Fair time I start getting excited and the people around me think I am crazy. We put in a lot of hard hours, typically starting around 7am and work until 10pm 7 days a week. It’s chaotic but a lot of fun.
CraveDFW: How busy is your stand compared to the others?
Karney: My stand is the second busiest stand on the Fairgrounds overall, but the busiest per square foot. At night we can put 180 corny dogs over the counter every 60 seconds. On Texas-OU weekend we go through about 14 kegs of beer. On an average day we might sell 3,000 corny dogs just at this stand.
CraveDFW: During the year you are a butcher, ever think about cooking full time?
Karney: I go to Remington Culinary School and I am one credit away from my degree.
After the interview Karney gave us a behind the scenes tour where he told us that he and his wife loved the Fair so much that two years ago today he proposed to his wife on the Killdare’s stage just feet away from his stand on Nimitz.
As we chatted a couple from Austin, Charlie and Katy Parker, walked up to buy their 6th corny dog of the day, but their record is 7. They make the trip to Dallas each year just for these corny dogs.
“The main reason we come is because of the corny dog. No bull. We have emailed pictures of the corny dog to Austin, Hawaii, and California. These corny dogs are head and shoulders above any others,” shouted Parker over the crowd.
The Parkers love the corny dogs, and bring a vile of powdered ghost peppers to sprinkle on the fried treat. The powder they freely add to each bite is 125 times hotter than a jalapeno. They consider the jalapeno more like a pickle to their rugged taste.
Packing up our gear we mention Gregory True to Karney and he happily smiled that True has fully recovered and we should see him back next year for another run at the State Fair of Texas.