Thousands of job applicants flood Puyallup Fair

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by By DEBORAH FELDMAN / KING 5 News and KING5.com

NWCN.com

Posted on August 13, 2009 at 6:47 AM

Updated Monday, Sep 28 at 4:22 PM

Video: Thousands line up for Puyallup Fair jobs

PUYALLUP, Wash. - From teens to retirees, people young and old spent the night on the sidewalk to apply for a temporary job at this summer's Puyallup Fair.

Fair officials were caught off guard Wednesday when more than 4,000 people showed up to apply for work at the fair. More people began lining up before dawn Thursday, so officials set a limit of 600 applicants - a number they reached before 9 a.m.

A group of high school buddies were the first in line, arriving shortly after midnight.

"I've been trying to be a bus boy at several restaurants, trying to get a job anywhere really," said Levy Molina, job applicant. "Yeah, it's been pretty bad. I haven't been accepted anywhere."

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The Puyallup Fair needs to fill 3,000 positions from food service to barn workers to game operators. The jobs will only last for a couple of weeks, but many applicants say they need the work.

"I've been laid off for about five months," said Brad Pryor, job applicant. "I have to get my bills caught up. I want to keep my credit in pretty good shape. You just gotta do what you gotta do. The economy right now is pretty bad."

"I'm retired and you never know how the money will go once you're retired. And this year it's really overwhelming," said Jeanne Van Slyke.

Fair officials say they didn't expect anywhere near the number of applicants this year. In the past 25 years, they say they never had more than 500 applicants show up on the first day.

Even the youngest in line find the stiff competition for minimum wage jobs a bit sobering.

"It just makes me a little sad about the economy. Just the fact that us 17 and 18-year-olds are fighting with people that just lost their job," said Brandy Sincyr.

Shortly before 9 a.m., the 600th person arrived - the last to be allowed inside the fairgrounds. Peggy Coffey said when she came to the fairgrounds Wednesday, she was among the first turned away when fair officials became overwhelmed.

"Fantastic, because I really need a job," she said. "It's been really hard finding a job being an older person."

Everyone who was turned away Thursday was asked to come back on Friday or Monday.

The employment office is open Monday - Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on the north side of the fairgrounds at 9th Avenue Southwest between Fourth and Fifth streets.

Jobs are available in food service, retail sales, game and booth operators, barn workers and other departments. Wages begin at $8.55 per hour, but some will pay more. You must be at least 16-years-old, have picture ID and proof of legal right to work. No applications will be accepted by phone or e-mail.

The fair runs Sept. 11 - 27.

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