Big Bert’s French Fries is a Halloween Tradition in Presque Isle, Maine
The Legendary Big Bert's French Fries
Bert Winslow is the man behind Big Bert’s French Fries - the place to go for hot fries on Halloween in Presque Isle. You can look all over, but you won't find anyone else doing it. So how did it get started and how many people come by? What's with the new food cart? Is he going on the road? Bert answers all your questions and more...
Started with Relay For Life
Big Bert’s French Fries all started about 10 years ago when he was on a team for Relay for Life. Winslow said, “We did this all night food thing. We cooked fries for everyone at the event, and won the money maker of the night award.”
Give Away Fries Instead of Candy on Halloween
Not too long after that, Winslow had the idea to serve fries on Halloween. "It’s just something different and something fun,” said Winslow. He already had the fryolators from the Relay for Life events and set up under a tent in his driveway. They gave away about 200 servings of fries that first year.
Big Bert’s French Fries Cart
Winslow decided to expand and bought a french fry cart from a fair down state and fixed it up. It has space he needs and he can cook more. “I got a great deal on it,” said Winslow. “It's got giant fryolators in it. Man oh man, we can cook some fries now. We have eight baskets and I can cook them faster than we can serve them. It’s fantastic. I also bought a fry cutter too. Throw the potatoes in and it cuts them in milliseconds”
How Many People Served?
Last year on Halloween, they served 732 people. “We prepare for 1,000 people, but we don’t always get that many. It may look like a line, but it's a walking line,” said Winslow. “We can move fast.”
Big Bert’s French Fries has 500 lbs of washed Russet Burbank potatoes this year. He’s also used Caribou Russets before too. “We’ll start cooking at 3:30 p.m. at 6 Winchester Road in Presque Isle. Take Maple Street off of Main next to The Sandwich Shop. We're on the third street on the right.”
Community and the Kids
Winslow drives a school bus for work. He said that when he drives by his house the kids yell ‘french fries.’ “It means so much to me how much the kids love it. They say how much they love Bert’s Fries. It puts a smile on everyone’s face and everybody talks about it.”
Family and Friends
Family and friends help out every year. He said he couldn’t do it without them. “My family is there, my brother Lynwood and his family help me. Dixie Lee Shaw has been serving fries with me for years. She loves it. If there’s anything leftover, we give it to her to take to Catholic Charities.”
Big Bert’s On The Road
Winslow said he plans on selling fries throughout the year. He has a state certification, but said there are a couple of things more to do. “We have to make the cart road worthy. Maybe this summer you’ll see me around at a few events. The plan is to make this an actual business, but on Halloween, we will give away free fries right here at 6 Winchester Street.”