SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA) — Vose’s Corn Dogs is one of the many staples at the Illinois State Fair in Springfield each summer. Its founder, Bob Vose, passed away on Monday, and his granddaughter Kelsie Vose reflected on the business and her grandfather’s legacy.
Corn dog beginnings at Illinois State Fair
Bob worked for his father-in-law’s ice company, delivering ice to all of the Illinois State Fair vendors in the 1960s. One year when a vendor was out sick, Bob filled in selling lemon shake-ups. He soon found he enjoyed being a fair vendor and founded Vose’s Corn Dogs in 1966.
“Corn dogs weren’t as popular back then, and my grandpa wanted to try something different,” said Kelsie, who was 2 months old at her first Illinois State Fair and began working in the family business when she was 8 years old. “He always used quality products and wanted to give everyone a bang for their buck. The business was never about the money with my grandpa.”
Each summer at the state fair, Bob not only grew his business but his relationships with other vendors, fairgoers, fair board members, state queens, and more.
“Grandpa knew everyone,” Kelsie said. “He had a memory like a steel trap. He was always making strong relationships with everyone, and he just became one of the staples of the fair. We always looked forward to seeing our fair family every summer, and they always enjoyed seeing us too.”
Fond memories of Vose’s Corn Dogs, Bob’s life
Kelsie said she has many fond memories of her grandpa’s business and working alongside him, including serving corn dogs and lemon shake-ups to Gene Trimble and his famous clown band. Trimble and five other band members dressed up like clowns and marched as a band along the fairground streets for five decades at the state fair.
“We would serve them six corn dogs and six lemon shake-ups every year,” Kelsie said. “They were one of the many attractions every year at the fair too, and they always made sure to stop, grab a bite, and say hello to my grandpa.”
Bob loved Springfield, and Kelsie said her grandpa always did his part to make the city better. Outside of the business, Bob served as a city alderman for 12 years. She said he was also proud to have completed the landscaping work at Oak Ridge Cemetery along the road leading up to President Abraham Lincoln’s tomb.
“He used his name to his advantage over the years,” Kelsie said. “He advocated for Springfield and made it an even better place to live.”
Continuing the legacy
“The state fair is a better place because of my grandpa,” Kelsie said. “He gave so much of himself to the fair and all of its visitors.”
Kelsie said Bob worked at the family corn dog stand last summer at the state fair, but more as a supervisor than a vendor. He continued to visit with his friends from the fair.
“Seeing my grandpa in his element made me a lot into the person I am today,” Kelsie said. “I worked every summer with him. I wouldn’t have my work ethic today without him.”
Even though Kelsie works at the Illinois Department of Human Services she continues to work in the family business most weekends in the summer between May – September, including the 11 days of the state fair.
She said the Vose’s Corn Dogs will continue operating this summer and for many years to come.
Photo courtesy: Kelsie Vose