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48 HOURS OF FOOTBALL: Strong smells raise concession stand sales

Friday, October 28, 2011 | 12:01 a.m. CDT; updated 8:57 p.m. CST, Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Ben Amiot grills hamburgers, hot dogs and bratwursts for the snack bar at Rock Bridge High School on Oct. 21 during the football game. Amiot is in his fourth and final season as volunteer grill master for the snack bar. His daughter attends Rock Bridge High School.

Hour 3: 7:15 p.m. Friday, Oct. 21

A trail of blue smoke wafted up and over the concessions stand and toward the football field and stands, carrying with it the smell of bratwurst. The coolness of the air and direction of the wind conspired to boost concessions sales, Ben Amiot, a Rock Bridge concessions volunteer, said.

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Amiot, who mans the grill at every game, added, “I’m not kidding. It makes all the difference.”

His wife, Kim Amiot, returns just before half time, at around 7:45, with a couple packages of pre-sliced American cheese. They had almost run out.

With a graduating daughter, the Amiots are in their last year working concessions for PTSA, and they’re wondering who will replace them. Parents and teachers are plentiful — 15 volunteered Friday night — but Kim Amiot says she needs someone to take over managing and scheduling every game – and grilling.

“He can run that grill like I’ve never seen anybody run it,” she says. No bratwursts are ever over- or under-cooked, she says. “I’ve never found another dad who could do that.”

Inside the concessions building at halftime, it’s hard to hear the band playing for all the yelling of “Hot dog!” “Hamburger!” “Nachos!” Four windows hang open to the pack of hungry — or cold — game-watchers outside. Half a dozen women inside handle money, and three children run back and forth with deliveries from the kitchen.

Kim Amiot, wearing a yellow T-shirt, leans against the back sink and watches.

“You’re too young to remember,” she says ... but the ordered chaos reminds her of a John Belushi "Saturday Night Live" sketch.

“Pepsi, Pepsi, Pepsi, Coke, nooo Coke,” she says over the din. “Hamburger, hamburger, hamburger, cheeseburger.”

Other voices chime in, calling orders, not realizing they’re part of a comedy sketch. Amiot laughs. Children run back and forth with hot, foil-wrapped packages.

One little girl in pink, conspicuous in all the green and gold, pauses with a hot dog in hand as she decides whether to run one way around the coolers or the other way around a table full of candy. Her pigtails swing.

“Right here, babe,” says a volunteer, Lori Lazzarini-Gerling, who works at two public schools and has a child at Rock Bridge.

The little girl, Mary Elizabeth, chooses to go right and squeezes between the candy table and another woman serving food. She stretches to hand off the hotdog, and a man cheers her on through the window: “Look at that serve! Did you see that?”

Mary Elizabeth looks down and turns around quickly. She runs to the back kitchen to grab another delivery.

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