It’s still all in the family as Kurt and Jackie Harris shift to a new occupation
By Dianna Troyer
For a former rancher, running a franchised food trailer is more about forging friendships than frying up corn dogs, cheese and candy bars.
In June 2021, Kurt and Jackie Harris and their son and daughter-in-law, Jaxon and Amber, bought a food trailer from The Corndog Company. Since then, they have traveled from their homes in Malta to cater fairs, rodeos, family reunions, high school homecomings, birthday parties, weddings and sporting events throughout southeastern Idaho.
Along the way, they and their three employees have befriended countless corn dog-craving customers and other food truck vendors.
The trailer is usually parked at the D.L. Evans Bank at 1105 Overland Ave. in Burley, as part of a food truck pod with six slots, creating an atmosphere like a food court at a county fair.
“Our corn dog trailer has been a business venture and family adventure,” Kurt says. “We’ve never done anything like this before. We’re thankful for the blessings it has brought and the people we meet. To us, they’re more than customers.”
An Instagram post shows him escorting an elderly woman, who walks slowly with a cane to her car. “I wanted to make sure she got there safely,” Kurt says. “I’ve always loved helping
He has also appreciated getting to know the vendors around him.
“I admire their hard work and character,” he says.
Jackie, a part-time seminary teacher for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at Raft River High School, says she enjoys seeing her students after school at the trailer.
“We’ve had it at our Raft River High School homecomings for two years,” Jackie says. “We always look forward to doing the Burley football home games, too.”
When they opened, they wondered if the COVID-19 pandemic would negatively affect them.
“It really didn’t have an impact,” says Amber, who schedules events. “We’ve been busy. The corn dogs sell themselves. Most people like the Epic, probably for its size.”
The 12-inch, ¼-pound all-beef corn dog, is dipped in a proprietary batter of cornbread, fried then drizzled in honey. The mini is 1/8-pound.
Besides corn dogs, cheddar, pepper jack or mozzarella cheeses are dipped in the batter and fried. Dessert is either a Milky Way or Snickers candy bar slathered in batter and fried.
The corn dog trailer is a dramatic shift in professions for Kurt. A former cattle rancher and livestock trucker, he confronted health issues that compelled him to seek an alternate occupation.
Kurt was injured while calving cows in March 2020.
“A cow took me down and broke eight ribs,” he says. “It was painful, but I still had to keep calving four more weeks.”
In April, when the last load of cows and calves were shipped back to the family ranch in Soda Springs, excruciating pain stabbed his back.
“We thought it was spasms from the broken ribs, but after a five-day hospital stay in Burley for pain management, we realized we were dealing with something else,” Jackie says.
A month later, she took Kurt to the emergency room at Portneuf Medical Center in Pocatello, where he was diagnosed with spinal osteomyelitis, an inflammation or swelling in the bone
caused by infection.
He also had sepsis, a condition caused when the body fights harmful microorganisms in the blood or other tissues, which can cause organs to malfunction.
After a weeklong hospitalization, he was released with a catheter in a vein to administer intravenous antibiotics long-term.
Three months later, the osteomyelitis was gone, and he was cleared from treatment.
“We realized about two months later that I needed to find another line of work,” he says.
Serendipitously, they learned about The Corndog Co. Their daughter and son-in-law, Ashley and Tyler Dunn, had bought a trailer.
“They told us it’s a wonderful franchise that originated in St. George, Utah,” Jackie says. “Tyler’s father had acquired franchise rights to Idaho, so Kurt and I, along with Jaxon and Amber bought franchise rights for Cassia County. We were thrilled with the support we received from the moment we opened.”
Although Jaxon works full time managing a feedlot, he helps run the trailer when he has time.
“Amber does an amazing job scheduling events and taking care of the financial end of our business,” Kurt says.
He insulated the trailer so he could remain open during winter.
Jackie says Kurt and Jaxon never envisioned themselves serving corn dogs.
“They’ve always been farmers and ranchers, mechanics, welders and truck drivers, but at their core they are providers and hard workers,” Jackie says. “They applied those principles to the corn dog trailer.
“Kurt always said he would flip burgers if that’s what it took to feed his family, and when it came to it, he walked the walk. I love him for it.”
Kurt says The Corndog Co. trailer has been more than a business venture.
“Our family is forever grateful for it,” Kurt says. “It gets me moving and meeting people and has ultimately helped improve my health.”