Published July 30, 2022

Chillin' at the Fair

Written by
Lydia Hoverson
| The Dakotan
Randy Gravelle, owner of Absolute Ice, delivers up to 100,000 pounds of ice at the North Dakota State Fair. (Photo: Lydia Hoverson/The Dakotan)
Randy Gravelle, owner of Absolute Ice, delivers up to 100,000 pounds of ice at the North Dakota State Fair. (Photo: Lydia Hoverson/The Dakotan)

 MINOT – Behind the scenes at the North Dakota State Fair is a man ready to keep the drinks cool and the temperature bearable. 

Randy Gravelle, owner of Absolute Ice of Detroit Lakes, Minnesota, wakes up early in the morning during the nine days of the fair to deliver ice to almost half the food vendors there. 

“I can get a lot done in three hours,” said Gravelle. “All my big truck work is done by 7 a.m.” 

Barriers are not put up until 10:30 a.m., so his large truck can drive through the fairgrounds, also allowing other trucks such as the ones that belong to the garbage and water companies. 

“I don’t have to fight the crowds,” Gravelle explained. “I can drive right up to the ice boxes and get everything unloaded.” 

Owner of Absolute Ice, Randy Gravelle, delivers ice early in the morning with his truck at the North Dakota State Fair. (Photo: Lydia Hoverson/The Dakotan)

The rest of the day Gravelle drives around on a kart delivering ice to the food vendors that are getting low during the day, or for those who need ice in the commercial buildings that don’t open until 11 a.m. 

“There are some places I go to that go through more than 100 bags a day,” said Gravelle. “On a hot day, or like Saturday, we might have some that go through 3,000 pounds of ice.” 

Gravelle said he will probably deliver 100,000 pounds of ice this year for all nine days of the fair, slightly down from the 120,000 pounds last year when it was hotter. 

Last year was the five-year-old company’s first year delivering ice for the fair. Gravelle said he was still learning the ropes then, but now that he has the job down better, he is usually done with work around 5 p.m. It is also easier this year, he said, since it is cooler. 

“I’ve been going to shows, watching the bull riding,” said Gravelle. “It’s a mini-vacation now.” 

Gravelle said he must keep the ice cold, but not too cold or it will start to shrink. 

The North Dakota State Fair is the farthest Absolute Ice has traveled to deliver ice, though Gravelle said he delivers for the WE Fest in Detroit Lakes where he can sell up to 500,000 pounds. 

Absolute Ice charges the individual vendors, unlike Pepsi which is contracted with the fair and sells to every vendor. Gravelle said if he delivered to every vendor, he would probably sell over 200,000 pounds of ice. 

Near the end of the fair, Gravelle said he starts to give less ice to each vendor. 

“Saturday I may have to take some bags from somebody who doesn’t need it and give it to somebody else,” Gravelle explained. 

As a fully automated company, almost everything that happens to get the ice to the fair is through machines. 

“This is the first time this ice has been touched by a human hand,” said Gravelle. 

Gravelle said there is a high demand for ice, with 100 year-round customers on his company’s waiting list. 


Stay connected to the latest news
Subscription Form (#3)

About the Author

Trending Now
The Dakotan Newsletter
Subscribe to get the latest news delivered straight to your inbox
Newsletter Form (#4)
© AndMuse, LLC 2024 Login Email
LIVE: 2022 Minot Mayoral Forum
Click to Watch Live
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram