It will be bittersweet when Frank McCarthy closes the shutters of his catering van for the last time on Thursday.
The 62-year-old took over the business his late father Frank McCarthy Senior created 40 years ago.
Mr McCarthy's father, who was a former Warrnambool mayor and ran a potato washing business in Dennington, came up with the idea to sell hot chips at events around the region.
"The business has been going for 50 years," Mr McCarthy said.
"It was developed by virtue of my father having a washed potato business at Dennington."
When grading the potatoes, Mr McCarthy would be left with large potatoes that didn't make the cut.
"He had all these big potatoes and he was wondering what to do with them," Mr McCarthy said.
"He decided to cut them into chips and sell fresh cut chips for 20 cents a cup."
The first event was football at Dennington, but his circuit soon grew to include agricultural shows and other events across the south-west.
Mr McCarthy and his siblings were often called upon to help out.
"I come from a family of eight," he said.
"He always had plenty of workers working in the chip van, which is what we used to call it then.
"All of us would be told on a Friday night 'don't make any plans for the weekend' and we would end up going to a country show somewhere."
Mr McCarthy said after a short career as a jumps jockey, he decided to take over the family business.
"It grew from there to a large number of trailers on the road," he said.
McCarthy Catering had six vans at one stage and has been providing food to crowds at events such as the Melbourne Cup, The Big Day Out and The May Racing Carnival ever since.
COVID hit the events industry hard, Mr McCarthy said.
That was part of the reason for his decision to sell off his remaining catering van and focus on McCarthy Big Screen Hire.
He diversified into providing big screens for events 15 years ago.
"I knew the screens would complement food and the food would complement the screens," Mr McCarthy said.
"I knew it was a happy marriage and that's why at 62 to this year I've decided to focus on that business."
Mr McCarthy said he had sold the business to someone who had been keen to take it over for some time.
"They'll be back down here next year with the van," he said.
Mr McCarthy will also return with his big screens and as a member of the Warrnambool Racing Club committee.
"It's been a great journey - I've met so many amazing people.
"We used to do 75 events a year with up to six trailers and more than 40 staff members.
"I wouldn't have been able to do it without the loyal staff I've had over the years."
Mr McCarthy said he would probably shed a tear when the last item is sold on Thursday at the May Racing Carnival.
He said he believed his late dad would be proud of what had been achieved by the family business that started with the humble spud.
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