March 3, 2024


Than a Food Fitter

Kona Ice truckin’ right along with its cool idea | Entrepreneurs

5 min read


kona ice

Kona Ice owner Wes Hanner works in one of the company’s trucks at their facility in Savoy on Wednesday.

Eight years after Kona Ice of Champaign got its start, this shaved ice business with more than 50 flavors has raised more than $75,000 for sports teams, schools and other organizations, says co-owner Wes Hanner.

Its three trucks are typically out and around at events, but one place you’ll be sure to find a Kona Ice treat soon will be at the Champaign County Fair July 22-30.

“We always love being at the fair,” Hanner said.

This business has grown, and so has its name recognition.

“The funny thing was when we started, nobody really knew what Kona Ice was,” Hanner recalled.

People would spot the truck and say, “Ice cream!” and now kids see it and say “Kona Ice! Kona Ice!” he said.

Kona Ice trucks are on site for a range of activities at schools, businesses and sports events. And for company employee events, it’s one of the few vendors that will turn up during the third shift, Hanner said.

For fund-raising events, Kona Ice of Champaign gives organizations 25 percent of the day’s sales, Hanner said.

“You don’t have to do anything, and you make money at the end of the day,” he said.

Hands down customers’ favorite flavor since the beginning remains blue raspberry, he said. Among the krafted flavors (some of which sound like they contain alcohol — but don’t) the top seller is bourbon black cherry vanilla, he said.

Kona Ice of Champaign (based in Savoy) is family-owned and operated by Hanner, his wife, Andrea Hanner, his parents Chuck and Linda Hanner and aunt Phyllis Lareau.

Besides shaved ice treats, what other treats can you indulge in at the fair?

Champaign County Fair Manager Lacey Teare said she wanted to include more than just the traditional fair food in this year’s lineup, so expect to find frog legs among the offerings.

In addition to Kona Ice of Champaign, here’s the line-up and some of what each vendor will have to offer:

fisher fair

The line for Cullers’ French Fries was a long one at this week’s Fisher Community Fair. ONLINE EXTRAS Head to for our photo gallery from the 81st Champaign County festival.

— Returning for a 77th year will be Cullers’ French Fries — still being sold in one size using the time-honored recipe of quality shortening and the best Idaho potatoes, said Jim Cullers.

And it’s still two condiments, salt and vinegar, “you have control of the salt and the vinegar,” he said.

— Giovanni’s Pizza.

— O’Brien Food Service: Funnel cakes, nachos, sausages and brats with peppers and onions.

— Truckin Good Food: burgers and breaded tenderloin.

— Beck’s Taffy: Taffy and fudge.

— La Paloma: Mexican food including tacos and street corn.

— Illinois Pronto Pup: corn dogs and lemon shake-ups.

— Jack’s Shack: Lemon shake-ups and corn dogs.

— River’s Bend Concessions: Catfish, frog legs and shrimp.

— Country Boyz Wings: Sausages with peppers and onions and chicken wings.

— Merigians Caramel Corn: Caramel corn, cheese popcorn, nacho popcorn, cotton candy and candy apples.

— McGrotha Foods: Fruit smoothies.

— Wood N’ Hog BBQ: Teare said this vendor’s menu wasn’t available yet but she’s expecting several offerings.

Find a job

The Salvation Army of Champaign County said it’s teaming up with Express Employment Professionals to host a job fair next month.

It will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Aug. 17 at the Salvation Army’s Red Shield Center, 2212 N. Market St., C.

Employers who want to participate can host a table for $35. They can also help sponsor the event.

The Salvation Army said requests for help they receive are routinely a result of unemployment or the need for better employment.

“We want to help people connect with employers and secure employment in an effort to minimize the current labor shortage and get people working in our community,” the organization said in its announcement.


The Illini apparel business Fourth and Kirby, Champaign, has announced plans to close.

Launched in 2017, the business is closing due to a shift in the market and increase in competition, according to co-owner Will Wyss.

With the exception of the Illini Union bookstore, which carries a small selection of Fourth and Kirby designs, sales are entirely online. So the plan is to keep the business active until everything is gone or until the license expires, Wyss said.

Fourth and Kirby is the work of four graphic designers (Wyss, Victor Cortez, Justin Striebel and Eduardo Diazmunoz Martinez) who worked together for the UI Division of Intercollegiate Athletics and weren’t happy with the selection of T-shirts and T-shirt designs that were available.

With so many other companies now creating vintage Illini apparel, Wyss said, they decided it was time to step aside.

“And honestly, our goal was to make great historic T-shirts that no one else was making, and now there are a bunch of great companies doing just that. We hope we had an impact on that,” he said.

Anniversary party

J. Gil Fitness Studio, 313B S. Staley Road, C, is marking the one-year anniversary (July 18) of its new studio location with a week’s worth of free classes, free personal training consultations and give-aways Monday through Sunday.

J. Gil, which has been in business for four years, trains those 18 and older by appointment only, and is continuing to offer personal training and group classes via Zoom as well as in person, according to owner Jennifer Gilliland.

Also available is nutrition counseling and on-demand training with customized workouts.

To participate next week, reserve your spot for what you want to attend on the website at

Sale update:

Six weeks after it was listed for sale, Gordyville USA still has no takers.

Champaign commercial Realtor Jon Fisher said Wednesday that multiple parties have expressed interest.

“Further dialogue is ongoing,” he said.

The 39.1-acre Gordyville, a longtime, family-owned Gifford auction and events center, is listed for sale for $4 million.


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