Gregg Karnis is a proud papa. His new Minnesota State Fair Pronto Pups flagship stand has been delivered, set-up and a huge hit.

Karnis is a media super star of the Fair. Interviews with press, live local television shows and even the Today Show’s Harry Smith and Stephanie March. All the attention hasn’t dented Karnis’ love of talking to people. He is a true Fair showman and loves what he does.

The Original Pronto Pups new, two-story stand is based on theater: it has a “front of the house” and a “back of the house.” It seems to be a theatrical production. The front of the house sells the Pronto Pups and the back of the house has a window where fair-goes can view the Pup-making process and watch “wiener wranglers” spear the all-beef wiener into a wooden stick.

Wranglers were already prepping hot dogs three days before the Fair opened. The prepared hot dogs are kept in a large, new, state-of-the-art refrigerator.

Most fair-goers have a Pronto Pups memory. The Pronto Pup was introduced at the Fair in 1947 and in 2016 the 25 millionth Pronto Pup was served.

“My dad and mom started Pronto Pups in Portland, Oregon,” said Karnis. “They moved it to Chicago. The stand became very popular.  A businessman from Minnesota, Bill Brede, was visiting Chicago, tasted the Pronto Pups and knew he wanted the Pronto Pups in the State Fair. He convinced my parents to move here in 1947.”

The “truck” motif of the stands are redesigned for their new location on 1315 Underwood Ave. , across from the Ballpark Cafe.

The flagship location used to be the Robinsdale Order of Eastern Star dining hall for 80 years. Pronto Pups is 73 years old, so the “youngster” moved into the vacated OES diner spot.

Cart delivers Pronto Pups to other locations.  Jeff Rutherford for ArtsCrawler

Gregg Karnis: State Fair superstar. Jeff Rutherford for ArtsCrawler

“Wranglers” spear wieners on a stick. Jeff Rutherford for ArtsCrawler

All-beef wieners: “A Banquet on a Stick.” Jeff Rutherford for ArtsCrawler


About Barb Teed

Barb has a M.A. in Liberal Studies from Hamline University, St. Paul, Minn., a B.A. in Media Studies from New School University, NYC., and Associates of Arts degree in Anthropology from Normandale Community College, Bloomington Minn. I was born in Duluth, Minn.