In 10 years of Deschutes County Fair experience, Kelly McMonagle has never seen an employee shortage like this.
“Since I’ve been with the show, this is the worst I’ve seen it as far as trying to get people out to come work,” said McMonagle, team lead for the Curly Fry Cart.
During a year of non-existent events, McMonagle says many regular employees found new work in 2020 and stuck with it.
“A lot of people didn’t come back after COVID and so we’ve been shorthanded,” he said. “We’ve been trying to pick up help everywhere we can.”
The Curly Fry Cart certainly isn’t alone.
Positions are open all throughout the Deschutes County Fair, which begins Wednesday in Redmond.
“We’re looking for anybody who’s able to work anywhere between four eight-hour shifts a day through the weekend,” said Les Yapp, the games and concessions manager at the fair. “We desperately need help as soon as possible.”
Food, ride, and game positions will pay between $16 and $18 per hour and there are plenty of spots available.
“We could hire 25 tomorrow or today. Wouldn’t be a problem, we can hire that many.”
The fry cart needs even more help.
“For the whole show we’re probably looking for probably around 40 people I believe,” McMonagle said. “If they like to travel, if they like meeting new people, doing new things, being part of something bigger, come on out. It’d be great, we’re pretty much hiring for everything.”
Being short-staffed is never ideal, especially during one of the biggest fairs in Oregon.
“During weekly operations, that means we’re getting less breaks, and the breaks are important,” he said. “Especially when you’re working 12, 16 hour days.”
But the job will get done no matter what.
“We’re carnival people, we’re used to work,” Yapp said.