#6 Owen & Sandi Carlson – Director of Bacon Bash Texas
Owen & Sandi Carlson Podcast Transcript
Neil Dudley: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Pederson Natural Farms podcast. We’re so excited you’re here. We look forward to sharing all about this beautiful industry of better-for-you food, meat, protein. We call the podcast the Pederson Natural Farms Podcast Powered by Protein because we’re going to talk all things bacon, sausage, ham, consumers, customers, vendors that support our business, employees that make us what we are, and peers, people that are in the industry competing for your attention and your dollar. And we think that’s healthy and we’re proud of them, so we want to share about them as well. Thank you so much for joining us. Be sure you tune in, don’t tune out, and remember, grab life by the bacon.
Hey everybody. Welcome to the Pederson’s Farms Podcast. This is our Bacon Bash Texas themed month, and there’s no way to even think about talking about Bacon Bash Texas without getting Owen and Sandi Carlson on the show. Owen and Sandi, welcome to the show. You guys just warm my heart every time I see you, your special people. And we want to have this conversation, put it out for the Pederson’s faithful to hear what Bacon Bash is all about, learn a little bit about Niki Warms the Cold, how Bacon Bash was started. I can tell the story, at least from my perspective, but you guys have a lot more color to add and heart and what it’s all about. And so, let’s talk about that. So, first things first, if you don’t mind, introduce- I guess, Owen, you take the floor, just introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about where you’re from and maybe how Bacon Bash Texas got started.
Owen Carlson: Okay. My name is Owen Carlson, from Cranfills Gap, Texas. And we actually own the Horny Toad Bar & Grill where Bacon Bash Texas originated, got the best, the first ideal to be taking place. Scott Cooney came in one day and he knew we were needing some money for Niki Warms the Cold. And he said let’s have a bacon cook off, and we will give the money to Niki Warms the Cold so y’all can give your stuff to the homeless. And it started there, and it just the first year, and it just grew from that.
Neil Dudley: Absolutely. So little shout out to Scott Cooney because he was the brainchild or the original guy that kind of started thinking about it. Probably shout out to Cody and Kent Wenzel, too, because those guys were pretty involved, and my wife, Stacey. There’s a group of people that kind of latched on to the idea of Bacon Bash Texas.
Owen Carlson: Well, we got to thank Pederson’s because they really latched on, and they did a lot to help get it going.
Neil Dudley: Yeah, well, I think it is our job.
Owen Carlson: Because we couldn’t have a bacon cookoff without bacon.
Neil Dudley: Now, Sandi, why don’t you introduce yourself a little bit before I get to rambling on about some of this other stuff. I want everybody to get a chance to know you too.
Sandi Carlson: Well, I’m Sandi Carlson from Cranfills Gap, Texas, and love Bacon Bash, love what it does.
Neil Dudley: Well, outside of a million other things you guys do, Niki Warms the Cold, which is a thing that we’re going to touch on. Oh, and by the way, hi everybody out there on YouTube. We’re filming this. I was very proud of Owen because he was looking up at the camera while he was talking. The people on YouTube are going to appreciate that, Owen. Good job. You’re an old master at this. I think maybe the next thing to explore is let’s just talk about this year’s Bacon Bash first. I mean it’s 2021, we’re having this Bacon Bash Texas themed month of the Pederson Natural Farms Podcast. And we want everybody that hears this to go to www.baconbash- See, I’m not even sure you need to add all those wws in front of there anymore – baconbashtexas.com. Just go there. The event is on October 16th this year. We’d love you to buy a ticket, come enjoy, celebrate, help us raise money for kids with type 1 diabetes and Niki Warms the Cold. Now, let’s follow that little string and talk about Niki Warms the Cold, where it came from, what it means to you guys, what you do at Niki Warms the Cold. And I know it’s a touchy subject. It’s not the easiest story to tell, but just do the best you can because I think people will appreciate it. And a lot of- maybe a lot of people won’t relate, but some people will absolutely know what you’re talking about. So, who’s the best person to pick for that? Sandi?
Owen Carlson: Sandi.
Neil Dudley: Alright good. Sandi, tell us a little bit about Niki Warms the Cold and your daughter Niki and where Niki Warms the Cold comes from.
Sandi Carlson: Well, and that would be it. Niki is our daughter. We have three, and she was number two. She didn’t like being called number two. She came home Thanksgiving of 2009 and said, “Mom, will you save your blankets? I want to keep them in my car. And when I see someone who needs one, I want to hand it to them.” This kind of came to her because she had helped with Operation Turkey there in Austin. So of course, she came home, and we talked about it. And of course, you get busy, and you just don’t do- you know, we didn’t start saving blankets yet. Well, in March of 2010, we lost Niki. And so, her sisters, she had this party in Austin called Niki de Mayo, and it was just a party out on the lake. Well, her sisters said, mom, let’s do this at the Horny Toad, and we’ll have a Niki de Mayo, and we’ll have a bike ride, and we’ll collect blankets. And so, we did. The first year we collected I think it was 72 blankets and $1,200 in cash on the first Niki de Mayo, which was less than a couple of months after we lost Niki. So, we thought that was great. By the time we went to Austin at Thanksgiving, we had over 300 blankets. And then while we were at Austin, it kind of grew from the idea of doing more than just blankets. By the time we went to the next place, which I don’t know, may have been Dallas or Fort Worth or Waco, I’m not really sure which one from there, we had people donating blankets and we had people donating their old coats. So that was good. Well, I think then the next year rolled around and we continued with Niki de Mayos and that’s how we raised money. And that’s how we started the socks. Then we added I think gloves, we added gloves and hats. And then through Bacon Bash each year, it seems like we’re able to add a little more. We’ve added backpacks, we’ve added toiletries, we’ve added hats and scarves.
Owen Carlson: McDonalds cards.
Sandi Carlson: McDonald cards. We keep those- and those are real handy to keep in your card. We do do what we call Blessing Bags.
Neil Dudley: You bet. Talk about the Blessing Bags a little bit.
Sandi Carlson: The Blessing Bags will have a blanket and two or three pairs of socks, toiletries, a hat, and scarves. And sometimes we’ll put snacks in them, but you can’t always keep all that in your car for very long. And that way, when we are riding along, we get to do exactly what Niki wanted to do. If you can get it out fast enough at the red lights, which is sometimes kind of hard. And if we can’t get the bag out, we will give them a McDonald’s gift card.
Owen Carlson: We give those bags instead of giving money.
Neil Dudley: Sure. Yeah, it’s a way to give somebody a hand up and not a handout.
Sandi Carlson: I love that you said that. Yeah, that’s what our pastor said one day, and I thought that was the neatest way to put it.
Neil Dudley: Absolutely. I’m all about, love giving people a hand up. I’ve needed a hand up. I’ve took a hand up. I’m not sure a handout really is that valuable to people because there’s- every person, every human has a certain pride, a certain piece of them that they really hold dear, like, hey. And just giving them a handout might help them that day, but it doesn’t build that little fire inside of them to get back on their feet. Anyways, now let’s talk about type 1 diabetes. By the way, thank you, and I’m so proud of you for getting through that because that’s really a tough story to tell and relive. And it’s a piece of your life that’s just there every day. And so, I think it’s one thing that makes y’all so gracious and so giving is just living through that and it helps you heal. Am I just making that up or does that actually, is that true?
Sandi Carlson: I don’t know, like for me, when we’re at Bacon Bash , it is the- I mean, it is abs- I can’t describe the feeling because I’m sitting there and I know not everybody gets it, what it’s all about, but a lot of people do. And I think each year more and more people are understanding that- maybe what we have been through. And I do think there’s a little more heart to it whenever people understand. And whenever I look around and I see all those people and in Cranfills Gap, it’s pretty amazing. I mean, it- He might can put into words how it makes you feel. I can’t. It’s- you almost want to be- you’re almost busting at the seams.
Neil Dudley: Yeah, sure. Well, we do a little thing where we release balloons. And I’m telling you folks, you should just come check out Bacon Bash. Give a dollar, give a dime, whatever. We’re interested in helping others. Now type 1 diabetes happens to be a big thing that we support as well. Somebody tell us the story of how type 1 diabetes got to be- Owen is just doing a real good job of being quiet. That’s okay. I think, tell us about it, Sandi, tell the people that might be interested in coming to Bacon Bash because there could be somebody listening that says, oh, I went through that same thing; I want to be a division of Niki Warms the Cold in Chicago, you know, who knows? Wouldn’t it be cool if somebody said, hey, I’d like to be involved with that, I had a similar experience? That’s the fun of the podcast is just the chance, the opportunity of others to hear about what we’re doing and be a part of it.
Owen Carlson: And we really need places to go more than- we got more stuff than we have places to go. So, if anybody knows of any place that needs some stuff or they want to stock some stuff, we’ll be glad to take it to them and help them out.
Neil Dudley: Sure. And as the president of the board of Bacon Bash Texas, I got to encourage everybody to go to that website and check out the sponsors. And if you need to do business and they happen to be in that business, work with them. We would appreciate it. They help Bacon Bash. They help us do what we do. So, I just like to give them a little bit of airtime too. Because at the end of the day, it’s all about remembering those people that are important to us in life that may have gone on and raising some money to help those people that we can while we’re here. Because we’re all blessed to get this chance. Send, if you want to, you can contact Bacon Bash Texas on that website as well and send them places where Niki Warms the Cold could go and distribute their love to the people. Okay. Talk about Lexi. Tell us type 1 and where that comes from.
Sandi Carlson: Alright, well, it was Lexi would come and help with the distribution when she could. Lexi had type 1 diabetes. It was a rough road for her. But so, one day she was with us at a distribution or maybe after distribution, and she said, “I want to make a difference like Niki, I just want to be here to see it.” And so that’s how whenever Bacon Bash came about, it was kind of like, well, we kind of had a little bit of money with Niki Warms the Cold, so we said, well okay, maybe we can help send somebody to camp. And so that’s kind of how, and then-
Neil Dudley: What camp are you talking about?
Sandi Carlson: Lexi loved Camp Sweeney, and it’s of course a diabetic camp. But from what I understand, the kids don’t just have to go to Camp Sweeney. But I think one is in Gainesville is where that is. And she, first year her mom took her, she was kicking and screaming. She didn’t want to go, but she made some lifelong friends. I believe Lexi attended two Bacon Bashes I think is what it was.
Neil Dudley: I know at least two because I think I saw her at the first couple.
Sandi Carlson: Well, actually it started in ’12. Yeah, I think it was something like that.
Neil Dudley: Maybe she was pretty sick-
Sandi Carlson: She was.
Neil Dudley: -was it the second one or the third one, maybe, but I don’t know the timeline exactly, but I know she wasn’t looking real good, but she was there, and that was cool.
Sandi Carlson: It was cool. And it was important to Lexi. I mean, it meant a lot to Lexi. And we were actually at a distribution this last year, and somebody walked up to us and asked us if we were involved in Bacon Bash. And we said yes, we are. And they were telling us about their child had received the Dexcom machine.
Neil Dudley: Really?
Sandi Carlson: Yes, so it was really cool.
Neil Dudley: See, it is such a small world, and it’s so fun. You always kind of get more than you give. It’s just crazy how it works that way when you’re giving in a genuine way. I get to call the kids and tell them, hey, you’ve won the scholarship or all the people on the board do. And by the way, shout out to the board of Bacon Bash Texas. It’s a bunch of good people making a difference, trying hard to help this movement, I don’t know, this event do all it can do. But calling those families and getting to hear how that’s going to change their life. So, for anybody that doesn’t understand what a continuous glucose monitor does or is, CGMs continuous glucose monitors, which are the things that Bacon Bash will help provide scholarships for, just keep those kiddos with diabetes continually monitored for their glucose levels so their parents can sleep for a change, maybe a first time in a long time that they are not just scared and waking up throughout the night, making sure their kid is not having an issue with their glucose. Man, the relief in their voice is recognizable. And just from stories, I know it really changes their life. Tell us a little bit about the Horny Toad. Because that’s one of the really cool attractions of Bacon Bash and people all across the state come through Cranfills Gap to hang out at the Horny Toad. Matter of fact, I think you’ve been recognized for one of the best burgers in Texas.
Owen Carlson: We were voted the best burger in Texas by Ride Texas Magazine. We had the Bucket List guy come through and he tasted them and did the top five with the bucket list.
Sandi Carlson: We were number four.
Owen Carlson: Yeah. So, we’ve been very fortunate. And ever since COVID, we’ve even done better than we did before COVID. We’re having record months now. So, people are coming out and a lot of it is peoples coming in because they hear about us from everywhere. And Bacon Bash brings in people; that’s a big day for us, of course. But that’s not the reason we have Bacon Bash.
Neil Dudley: Well, yeah, that’s right. Well, I think part of why I wanted to mention the Horny Toad is if you don’t come to Bacon Bash, come through Cranfills Gap, come to the Horny Toad. They’ll take a donation for Niki Warms the Cold. Bring your coat, bring your blanket. I’ll bet money-
Owen Carlson: Buy a ticket.
Neil Dudley: Yeah, buy a ticket, come back. Owen and Sandi happen to ride motorcycles a little bit, and I think you’ve got a lot of friends that ride motorcycles and come through. So, it’s a great ride to come out to Cranfills Gap and just ride through the country and enjoy a bike ride.
Owen Carlson: We’ve been known as the destination. And you’ve got to be going to Cranfills Gap, you don’t just accidentally go through Cranfills Gap.
Neil Dudley: Absolutely. That’s one of the, I think, things that brings kind of the ambiance to Bacon Bash is it’s kind of out of the way. Like you’re going to have to intend to go, on purpose. You don’t just accidentally end up at Bacon Bash Texas. You come out there for the event. I would say, if you want to come, I really, really encourage you to think about getting a hotel room somewhere in Clifton, Hamilton, bring a tent. We’ve had people just camp out in tents.
Owen Carlson: We do have a big lot, that big lot is for tents.
Neil Dudley: You can do some just camping. And maybe we should talk about what else goes on at Bacon Bash, like why do we call it Bacon Bash? Well, you eat bacon. What we do is we bring teams in. Now y’all can help me add here, because I’m sure there’s some things I’ll miss. But you bring teams in, give them 15 or 20 pounds of bacon. The rules are make something with that and serve samples to the people. That’s basically the only rules. We end up doing live judging up on the stage. We have entertainment, bands come and play. The people that have come and played at Bacon Bash and then kind of gone on and had pretty big careers is really cool. Then there’s, what’s the young-?
Sandi Carlson: Jack.
Owen Carlson: Jack Barksdale.
Neil Dudley: Jack comes and plays and he’s just a great attraction every year. He’ll make a whole bunch of tips. Now, I don’t know, I can’t hold Jack to this every single time, but he’s made a bunch of tips and gave them to the charity every year that I remember, so I’m really proud of him for that and appreciate it.
Owen Carlson: Is he coming back this year?
Sandi Carlson: I don’t know.
Neil Dudley: We’ll have to check. We’ll have to check on him.
Sandi Carlson: He’s a busy young man.
Owen Carlson: He’s busy. He’s been singing with a lot of pretty famous singers right now.
Neil Dudley: Oh yeah. That’s cool.
Owen Carlson: He’s getting good.
Sandi Carlson: He was with Wynonna Judd I believe I saw. Yeah, he’s doing great.
Neil Dudley: Way to go, Jack, I hope you’re listening. I hope you hear this. We’re proud of you. We appreciate everything you’ve brought to Bacon Bash. Now a couple of other things I’d like everybody to know is we’re still looking for sponsors. We still have- this episode should be airing early October, so everybody will have a chance to still get involved when they hear it. We have live auctions. Come get involved in any way, and we would certainly be glad to have it. Now, Owen and Sandi, I’ve took up quite a bit of your time. I’m just wondering, is there any other thing, any other story, something that maybe not everybody would know about Niki or Lexi that we could just tell as a kind of a special podcast insight for our listeners? Where’s hootie hoo, what’s that all about?
Sandi Carlson: Oh, well okay. Niki’s philosophy in life, and this really was, having fun is fun. That’s the way she lived. Having fun is fun. And we believe- and hootie hoo, she would always say that was her favorite saying. And to me, I one time described that as I think that was her hello-goodbye because she’d pop in going hootie hoo, and she would leave going hootie hoo. Now, how did that come about? I did ask a friend one time. I said, well, why did she say that? They thought something might’ve maybe a little drink might’ve been involved. Maybe one or two drinks might’ve been involved, and she was maybe going to say woohoo, and it came out hootie hoo. And so hootie hoo is just- It has stuck. I mean, it’s a- It will always mean, always be special for me. I mean, it will.
Owen Carlson: And Niki was a very caring person. She was having some financial problems at one time. And so, we got to the bank, and we got her some money. And she was so poor. She says, “I just don’t know what I’m going to do.” So, we went, and we figured up all of the bills, she owed 2,500 bucks. She was so poor. And she was so worried about it. So, we went to the bank, and we borrowed the money. We got everything paid off, and she had, what, $200 in the bank. And she goes, “One of my, one of the people I work for is having a tough time, I think I’m just going to give them 50 bucks.” As soon as she had it, she wanted to help somebody. And I mean, that’s just the way she was. But that was pretty funny. She was so poor, she was so depressed.
Sandi Carlson: But then when you talk about Lexi, wow, she was really an amazing young lady. She went through so much with her diabetes.
Neil Dudley: It’s funny how diabetes is just devastating for some people and some people not as bad.
Sandi Carlson: Exactly.
Neil Dudley: Because I would have, from an outsider perspective, I felt like Lexi did everything she was supposed to, to take care of- now was I missing it or was she not good?
Sandi Carlson: I think she’d have her times, but I think she did try. But to me what it seemed like it’s like, maybe a lot of things, but if anything could go wrong for a diabetic, it was Lexi.
Owen Carlson: One step forward and one step back.
Sandi Carlson: Yeah. But that was the most- I mean, if you could be down- you just had to read her posts. I mean, she had a Facebook of course, and she was always lifting people up just with her posts. She was always positive, always. And I’m sure she wasn’t, I’m sure she had her bad days. But she didn’t want people to know that she had those. I mean, and I tell you what, that is one thing I miss, I was thinking about that the other day. I miss Lexi’s posts because they always made you think and made you realize just how lucky you were.
Neil Dudley: Absolutely. We all take a lot for granted, don’t we? Now maybe, I mean, this could be a little deeper, but I’d love a chance to ask you the question because I think I look up to you guys for this reason. The strength you kind of have in losing a child and getting through that and staying married and all those things that just make life really tough, would you have any advice for somebody else that might be going through a similar thing? Or have you ever talked to other parents that lived through a similar thing?
Owen Carlson: You’d be surprised how many people we know that have lost children, and they all are going through the same thing. And it’s, you can’t really- how do you- You can’t just, it’s hard to describe.
Neil Dudley: Well, you never just curled up and withered away and quit living. So, what gave you the strength to do that? I think about losing one of my daughters. It’s just devastating. It scares me. It makes me want to cry right now. Right? But life goes on. So how would you explain your perspective on that or how you did it?
Sandi Carlson: You do it every day. It doesn’t, you just didn’t do it. You go through this every day.
Neil Dudley: That’s right. It’s not over.
Owen Carlson: It never is, no.
Sandi Carlson: No. And I think it’s not just with a child, it is with anyone that you love that you lose. I heard this one time and I love it: It’s okay it’s not okay, and that’s okay. You have those good days. You have those bad days. But whatever day you’re having, that’s okay. I don’t think you- I personally could not get through it without having faith in God. But you also said you have three daughters, and that’s just it. You have other children, or you have grandchildren, you have others that you go on for. Oh, you miss that one, I mean, that’s a puzzle piece that will never, never be put back in place. But we were blessed to have her.
Neil Dudley: And you have each other. I think it’s paints a little bit of a- I would like to encourage other couples going through the same thing to lean on each other and take strength in that partner that’s in the fight with you. I mean, I could just imagine that definitely-
Owen Carlson: We’ve lost one, and we know some people that’s lost two, three.
Neil Dudley: Well, think of our veterans and those families that their kids went off to war. I mean, there’s just- it’s everywhere.
Owen Carlson: There’s so many. Everywhere, everywhere. And some of them are accidents and some of them aren’t. And the ones that aren’t, that’s sad.
Neil Dudley: Absolutely. I don’t want to just be sad about all of this. I’m actually not sad. I think it’s a beautiful thing that you guys are able to, willing to talk to us about it, have Niki Warms the Cold be a part of Bacon Bash. Bacon Bash is just happy as it can be to be involved in that. And then I am kind of a selfless promoter, so we’re doing this and I’m kind of feeling like I’m promoting Bacon Bash along the way, trying to get people to come and stuff. Please don’t take that as what this is about. This is really about introducing you to Owen and Sandi Carlson, a couple of beautiful people that do great things each and every day. And there’s people just like them in your communities wherever you are. Give them a hug, tell them they’re awesome because they deserve it. And this is one small platform, one small opportunity for me to do that and just put it out there for everybody that’s in the Pederson’s, I don’t know, squad that listens to this podcast to just say a little prayer for Owen and Sandi, and then say a little prayer for Bacon Bash Texas, and then come spend some money.
Owen Carlson: And we couldn’t do it all without people, giving people, that we know too many people out there that just, there’s a lot of good folks, a lot of good folks that are just giving.
Neil Dudley: It’s kind of like what you were just telling that story of Niki. We were in church the other day, and the preacher was preaching about giving, and how Jesus appreciated the lady that gave her last shilling more than the rich men that were giving, I don’t know, pounds of gold, just picture it, billions of dollars, whatever. Because that was a bigger give from her to give her very last one. Then they still had a bunch more. You’ll see people at Bacon Bash doing that very thing. They come, they can’t buy the thousand-dollar auction item, but they’ll put $5 in the jar, the tip jar, whatever. It’s just a heartwarming thing to go and see. And outside of that, it’s a heck of a lot of fun and good food.
Owen Carlson: We have a lady that comes to the Gap, and she brings us a box of socks about every two or three months. Just driving into town.
Sandi Carlson: And she is there at Bacon Bash. She loves it.
Owen Carlson: She’s already got her tickets.
Neil Dudley: Awesome. Thank you so much for talking to me. I appreciate y’all spending this time. Come to Bacon Bash. We got bacon, beer, bands, and we’re raising money for Niki Warm the Cold and type 1 diabetes. Thanks for listening. See you around the corner.
Hey everybody. Thanks for listening to this episode of the Pederson Natural Farms Podcast. If you don’t mind, go hit that subscribe button and check us out at Pedersonsfarms.com. Thanks for listening.
(1:50) – Owen and Sandi Introductions
(3:38) – Bacon Bash 2021
(4:18) – The story behind Niki Warms the Cold
(11:46) – Why is Bacon Bash supporting Type 1 Diabetes?
(14:07) – Continuous Glucose Monitors to help those with Type 1 Diabetes
(14:57) – The Horny Toad
(16:12) – Cranfills Gap, TX
(17:17) – What happens at Bacon Bash?
(19:29) – Hooty-Hoo!
(22:36) – Advice for those struggling with the loss of a child
(25:27) – Wrap Up