by Maggie Van Ostrand
No place in our area was more popular during the long supermarket workers' strike of 2003-2004 than Frazier Park Market. Business picked up considerably and, happily, many shoppers outside the immediate area who "discovered" it at that time, have remained loyal.
Rick Johnson has been involved in the workings of Frazier Park Market for over 20 years, beginning as box boy and working his way up to manager. He has lived in Cuddy Valley since 1977, when his family moved from Oklahoma after the death of his father. "It was so long ago," Rick remembers, "it only cost my brother $100 to move the entire family, furniture and everything, all that distance."
Frazier Park Market's big sellers are typical: canned goods, fresh produce, meat, and "impulse items," like candy and soda. "We try to keep a good variety of items people like," says Rick, adding that he goes to food trade shows once or twice a year, always looking for new items to try. Every now and then, there are taste tests at the market for people to sample new things.
In the period since Rick has been manager, there have been two or three additions to Frazier Park Market, and parking has been expanded to accommodate their ever-growing business.
Frazier Park Fiesta Days are of romantic significance to Rick, since that's where he met his wife, Lori, 23 years ago. They have two children; Jeff, 20, who starts UTI in Phoenix, Arizona, in January, and Megan, 18, who just passed State beautician tests and will begin her new career in Bakersfield.
At his Cuddy Valley home, Rick built a large water-well style barbecue made of rock, with a metal roof hand-cut to look like shingles. Barbecuing for as many as 60 guests isn't unusual for Rick, who prefers cooking with wood (oak) instead of charcoal. A favorite is fresh corn which "tastes better if you remove the husks before barbecuing," he advises. Indoors, Lori does the cooking. "I eat everything she makes, you bet," says Rick, "After 23 years, we're pretty compatible."
He once raised pigs (a favorite was named "Pork Chop") which qualifies him as leader of the 4-H Club (Swine classes), the youth education branch of the Cooperative Extension Service, a program of the United States Department of Agriculture.
Rick Johnson is one of 20,000 people who volunteered their time in the 4-H Youth Development Program last year, and it's very dear to his heart. From computers to livestock, 4-H projects cover just about everything volunteers can handle. "Volunteers are always needed," says Rick, 'and the work is so important."
Speaking of work, Rick enjoys working in his yard, calling it his "peaceful time," and riding on his lawnmower over 20,000 square feet of grass. Although he has seen lawnmower races, he hasn't entered them. Not yet anyway.
He and Lori also go camping about once a year, locally to Shaver Lake, and also further away to Montana, Wyoming and the Black Hills of South Dakota, one of his favorite places.
Rick Johnson believes in giving back to the community, and in doing the things that make you happy.
He's a lucky man. He has managed to do both.
Reprinted by permisson of Maggie Van Ostrand
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