The smell of smoked turkey legs drew hundreds of people to Smokey John’s Bar-B-Que on Saturday at the State Fair of Texas.
“We were a little concerned with our turkey leg supplier going in, but they’ve been able to keep up, so everything has been going well,” said Juan Reaves, co-owner of Smokey John’s Bar-B-Que and Ruth’s Tamale House.
Reaves said the restaurant is down from around 125 employees last year to just 75 this year.
Still, he said business has been steady.
“I think Smokey John’s might be a little bit down, but Ruth’s Tamales looks like it’s up, so we’re really excited," he said. "I think in the end we’re going to be satisfied. We have two days left, and these are two big days for us."
The 2021 fair marked Lupita Valerio’s 26th year serving up gorditas and smiles.
She travels from San Antonio every year to greet new customers and familiar families.
“I thought it was going to be slow, but it turned out to be great,” said Valerio, owner of Lupita’s Gorditas.
When six of her regular workers didn’t show up this year, Valerio said she hired a Dallas family to help.
“I’m surprised. We’re doubling our sales and only the four of us,” she said.
She said could still use an extra pair of hands.
“I even have a sign right there on my ticket box. I have a sign that says, 'Help wanted.'”
Many of the vendors were short-staffed this year and have been affected by the national labor and supply shortages.
They have asked customers to have extra patience with wait times and long lines for favorite fair foods.
Fair organizers said attendance was lower than normal this year. The State Fair of Texas concludes on Sunday.