Food vendor says worker shortage already affecting Canfield Fair as set-up begins

Local News

CANFIELD, Ohio (WKBN) – It’s a big year for the Canfield Fair: the 175th edition! We spent Monday at the fairgrounds watching the set-up and learning about some interesting behind-the-scenes stories. But while the community is awaiting the opening of this year’s fair, some concessionaires are having trouble finding workers.

Monday was a great day for decorating at the pumpkin barn. The small gourds were arranged for display and the pumpkins were stacked. Sometimes, just the right sized one was needed to fill a space. The giant pumpkins are arriving on Tuesday.

“Never quite know who’s going to be here with the largest or how large it will be, but always optimistic it’s going to set a new record for the Canfield Fair,” said Craig Myers, with the Canfield Fair Pumpkin Show.

Richard Brady, the owner of Brady’s Concessions, was moving 200 pounds of hot dogs into freezers at the three Johnson’s Corn Dogs trailers. This is their 25th year, and it might be even more memorable than last year’s fair.

Back in 2019, Brady had no problem finding the help they needed.

“Years ago, it was nothing to have kids walk up and [see] if we were hiring or not,” Brady said.

Brady says some of the concessionaires he talked with aren’t coming to this year’s fair because they can’t find the workers.

“It’s the talk for everybody right now, nobody can find workers. There’s actually a lot of concessionaires who aren’t coming because they can’t find help. There’s games that aren’t coming because they can’t find help. It’s been a tough year,” Brady said.

This year, the fair has had trouble hiring workers, especially for parking and maintenance. But, officials say a recent social media push has helped to fill the gaps.

“We got onto social media and we’ve been fortunate enough to have a lot of people come up to the fairgrounds’ office in the last two days,” said George Roman, director of concessions and entertainment for the Canfield Fair.

The fair did increase their pay to attract more workers, which helped find the workers.

“We’re just a little behind where we were two years ago, but the wages have gone up, everything’s increased, so it’s a benefit for everyone,” Roman said.

Many vendors haven’t raised their hourly rates, so they haven’t been as lucky. Some are still struggling to find the workers they need and have had to rely on family and friends.

“People just don’t want to work. It’s just too hot or too long of [a] day or they just don’t want to come out,” said Davine Sickle, owner of Ziggy’s Concessions.

Sickle says fair attendees may need to exercise some patience when getting their favorite fair food.

“They’ll either wait in line, like, they have favorites. If people really want that product, they’ll wait in line no matter how long they have to wait in line,” Sickle

The fairgrounds will be open on Tuesday for anyone looking to work during this year’s Canfield Fair, which starts this Wednesday at 8 a.m.

Mackenzie Beckett, who’s showing miniature ponies at the fair, will show them off on Wednesday and Friday in the new junior saddle horse ring.

On Monday, she was walking ponies Annabelle and Jezzebelle into their pens. Annabelle is the star.

“She loves the fair. She loves people and attention,” Mackenzie said.

Mackenzie is showing animals for the 15th year. Her father, Carl, also has a connection with them: special bonding while fighting cancer.

“Lot of late nights frustrated with things, I could always go out with them and talk in the middle of the night and just let things go,” Carl said.

Carl completed chemo last year just before the Junior Fair started. He feels the kids raising ponies is just like his situation, you keep fighting and don’t give up.

“You know, the same thing with their animals. They struggle and fight through problems, and that’s all you got to do in life. Just don’t give up,” Carl said.

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Mel Robbins Main Area Middle

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