Spice Up Your Next Youth Sports Event With Food Trucks
Justin Huskisson remembers playing sports as a kid and eating the small concession options that were available to him. He thinks about the joy food brought him while playing sports in Kentucky as he manages a fleet of Kona Ice trucks around the Central Texas area.
Huskisson was the first franchise owner of a Kona Shaved Ice truck in Texas. His days are spent meeting with a variety of sports league organizers, community organizers, schools, and neighborhood leaders, all promoting kid-friendly shaved ice.
He aims to create an experience for tournaments and teams.
“Many booster groups around town organize concessions to try and turn a profit,” Huskisson said.
“It can be difficult for parents who work during the week to coordinate the concessions in order to turn a profit. We provide an experience for teams that can linger for 8, 10, 12 hours a day at a tournament- it’s important that they have food on site.”
The shaved ice company has a few different units to cater to events and parties of different sizes. There are 10 Kona Ice trucks in the Austin area, plus rental units, and an indoor kiosk unit that they use at Dell Diamond, home of the Round Rock Express, the Texas Rangers’ Triple AAA affiliate.
At tournaments, the company even donates a percentage of supplies back to the league. With an area covering almost 2 million people, Huskisson has himself working with a variety of different leagues and customers. He started working with youth football leagues (it is Texas after all) and expanded into baseball, soccer, and more recently, swim meets, which occur 3-4 times a year.
It’s a seasonal and unpredictable food truck life when it comes to youth sports Huskisson says. He has lots of youth baseball tournaments in the summer months, and may have one football game on a Friday, or have to drive to five different games across Austin and neighboring cities. April, May, June and October are his busiest months, and he sees a lot of overlap with schools.
The one constant? Adults and their children always look forward to seeing Kona.
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“Kids grow up with Kona, and they want it to stay cool during the hot summer days and nights,” said Huskisson.
Parents can grow up with it as well. Huskisson notes that he’s dealt with some of the same parents across multiple sports and schools.
“The real involved parents tend to be involved with several leagues and organizations,” he said.
“The same mom might be on the board of two PTAs and three different leagues, and they talk to the other moms about us.”
Kona has been working with schools around Texas for a number of years. With their first class production guidelines, which meet applicable federal regulations, and their ability to modify orders for children with food allergies, many schools see it as a healthy snack for students. Their self-service truck with over 20 flavors allows kids to be creative as they mix and match their flavors to get the perfect blend of shaved ice.
“One of the biggest pieces of feedback we get is from parents of athletes that thank us for offering healthy products,” Huskisson said.
“It’s a big deal for different areas of Central Texas.”
While Kona has longstanding partnerships, many youth sports organizers know the shaved ice company as a national brand, and simply reach out through a website. Huskisson recalls a few times where a parent called in hoping to reward a team for a tough practice. Sometimes, those small practices turn into large tournaments.
For Huskisson, it’s all about giving back to the community. The truck delivers to hospitals to brighten patients’ days, and in one instance served an entire neighborhood for free after a child’s parents passed away.
It’s all in a day’s work for this food truck operator.