The streets that were once filled with anticipating customers ten days ago were now deserted. I thought I would be relieved, but I was nostalgic. I could not believe it was over.
Twelve years ago my parents had a crazy idea. They bought a lemonade stand and became carnies at the Illinois State Fair every year. At a young age, my three other siblings and I were taught the true value of hard work and, what some may call it, the “carnie life.” As we aged, so did our responsibilities within the stand. My parents began to disperse different aspects of the stand until eventually it was all ours.
We became immersed in the concept of owning a business through making a lemonade shake up. One of our first tasks was to rename the stand. We renamed it GTC Concessions. GTC stands for “Going to College” because all of the profit made was put towards paying our college tuitions. The work to prepare, operate and clean up was hard but rewarding. Through the process of learning entrepreneurship skills and teamwork, my love for people and business only grew. For 10 days out of the year, I was able to spend time with my siblings while making money toward our futures. Yet, the money made from shaking shake ups was nothing compared to the family foundation built upon them.
Family unification can be defined in many ways. While we went to church as a family on Sunday’s and ate family meals together, the Illinois State Fair was the breeding ground for my own family’s foundation. We were and are each others’ support system. On days my sister was feeling fatigued and overworked, I moved to the front of the stand. On other days where I was not feeling my best, she did the same. We carried and supported each other at the fair, just as we continue to do at home. Through faith, love, and our firm foundation, we became a unit. By having difficult business conversations and carrying each other through long nights, the foundation of my family strengthened.
The art of shaking lemonade shake ups may seem insignificant to people who do not know my familiy’s story, but GTC Concessions has been a constant in my life. No matter what my family went through, we always would spend ten days out of the year together making shake ups and frying corn dogs. As I prepare to enter into the adult world, I realize the drastic impact lemonade shake ups have made on my life. Lemonade shake ups are the reason I can afford to go to college next year. Lemonade shake ups are the reason I have such a passion for entrepreneurship and people. Most importantly, lemonade shake ups built my familly’s foundation and memories that will last forever. Who knew a sour lemon could result in so much sweetness? I believe in lemonade shake ups.