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Jefferson County Fair struggled to hire workers

Published: Jul. 15, 2021 at 5:41 PM EDT
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - Hiring people to help with the Jefferson County Fair has been a problem this year.

“We always do an ad for day labor to help set up the rides and to tear the rides down. It’s not unusual to have 50 to 100 people show up on Monday when the rides get here. This year when they got here, you only had one applicant,” said Bob Simpson, fair president.

Richard Reithoffer, whose company provides the rides, says that 1 applicant did turn into about 5 - still well below what he is used to having to get things up and running.

“That’s when it’s felt the most because you need bodies and men to get the stuff set up and then also to tear it down,” he said.

Reithoffer says he is short about a third of his own workforce; many employees not returning due to recent stimulus checks and making more money on unemployment benefits

“Instead of opening up on a Tuesday in some places, you might have to open up on a Wednesday. You know, there are only so many hours in a day and so many hours you can work and we are doing the best we can with the staff that we have,” he said.

Other aspects of the fair are also facing the same issues.

Simpson says gaps at the fair are usually filled with more game and food vendors, but a shortage of staff means they weren’t able to put them all out this year.

But, even a smaller scale is still great for Simpson.

“Are we back 100%? No. But, are we back better than we hoped to be a month ago? Yes,” he said.

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