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Fair concession stand raises money for college scholarships

By Jennifer Kendall, jkendall@ktxs.com
Published On: Sep 09 2013 09:25:11 PM CDT
big country
ABILENE, Texas -

The West Texas Fair and Rodeo isn't all fast rides, fun games and fried food. At Big Country Concessions people are helping more than they realize.

Last year, the owner of Big Country Concessions Melanie Odell lost her daughter.

"Amber was in a head-on collision with a semi truck and she was talking on the phone, we think possibly may have been texting, so we just want to pass a message along that she was 17 years old, she was five miles from home, from the driveway, and I feel that this could've been prevented if it hadn't been for the phone," said Odell.  

Odell said her son, William Smoak was devastated.

"I didn't think I was going to make it without her she was the life and joy to all of us, especially me. I feel like she was the only thing that gave me a reason to live," said Smoak.

After Amber's death, Odell took time off from her job as a nurse and opened Big Country Concessions. Amber was from Hughes Springs, Texas, so why did Odell name the stand Big Country?

"The name came from Amber’s nickname, which got started at Hugh Springs High School, and Big Country because she was so tall, she wore boots, she was country through and through, she loved to ride in the mud, four wheel, whatever," said Odell.

A percentage of the profit from food sales at the stand is going into a scholarship fund in Amber's name for students at Hughes Springs High School.

Amber's mother hopes the stand will also send parents a message.

"Hug your kids, love your kids, be patient with your kids and teach them to keep their phones in their pocket. Put it away when you get in the car," said Odell.  

The stand will continue on after the West Texas Fair and Rodeo ends. Odell is traveling all over Texas to bring Big Country Concessions to seven more fairs this year. Next she will visit Pittsburgh, Texas.