Dale Wagner had a long history learning his trade, but he never imagined he’d end up where he has.
“I had a mother and grandmother who were amazing cooks and bakers, and I always enjoyed being in the kitchen with them," recalled Wagner. "Much of what I learned about food preparation came from their input and teaching.”
“I grew up as a typical farm boy and figured that was what I would make a career out of," he continued. "If you asked me if I thought I would be doing what I would be doing, absolutely not. I was pretty shy as a young person and being in and speaking in public was not my forte.”
Today, Wagner owns and operates Wagner Farm Pork Concessions.
“Initially, it was a necessity to generate income,” he said. “Now it’s become a passion.”
“I love being out in the community and building relationships through the simple act of serving food," he added.
Wagner, 54, grew up on a farm near Edison in Morrow County. He graduated from River Valley High School in 1986, then earned a degree in agricultural economics from Ohio State in 1991. After college he worked in the swine industry, but his job was ultimately eliminated.
“This prompted us to move back to Marion and seek out new opportunities,” he said.
“After we moved back to Marion in 1999, we had an opportunity to jump into the agri-tainment arena, where we operated the Buckeye Country Corn Maze on my grandfather’s farm for two years," noted Wagner. "In doing this, we also started serving food out of a small concession trailer for our guests. This was the origins of Wagner Farm Pork Concessions.”
Regan Hensel has been a long-time fan.
“I’ve known and been friends with Dale for maybe 17 years now, meeting him while I was the youth pastor at Marion Salem UMC," said Hensel. "When we decided to have the youth put on pancake dinners as fundraisers, I was informed they would include Wagner sausage patties. I immediately found out why. Dale got up early on the morning of our pancake dinners to pre-grill every patty because that’s how faithful he is to the taste and quality of his product.”
“Dale looks at what he does as a way to bless others while he and his family continue to be blessed, all the while preparing and serving great food," added Hensel. "His name and reputation are widely known, which is a testimony in and of itself!”
“I get great joy and satisfaction from seeing repeat customers over the years,” Wagner responded. “God has blessed us amazingly through this and we’re so grateful for the continued support from the Marion community over the last 20-plus years.”
“It’s been an unexpected turn of events from what my life plan was,” he concluded. “But I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”
You can find more information about Wagner Farm Pork Concessions on Facebook.
Aces of Trades is a weekly series focusing on people and their jobs — whether they’re unusual jobs, fun jobs or people who take ordinary jobs and make them extraordinary. If you have a suggestion for a future profile, let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article originally appeared on Marion Star: Aces of Trades: Wagner Farm Pork Concessions still going strong