Next month Big Tex in all his glory will greet the North Texas sky as the 135th State Fair of Texas kicks off at Fair Park in Dallas.
"As of now, we are planning for a full State Fair of Texas, in a traditional form that everybody knows and loves and we're thankful to be able to operate in that fashion," said Karissa Condoianis, the vice president of public relations for the State Fair of Texas.
Organizers canceled the traditional fair in 2020 due to the pandemic. Instead, people were able to drive-thru and pick up fair food and take a picture of Big Tex.
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State Fair in Need of Seasonal Employees
Condoianis said they usually hire more than 2,000 people from around DFW to work the front gates, parking lots, concession booths, livestock, clean and sell coupons.
Usually, they have hundreds who are loyal repeat seasonal employees who show up every year, but organizers are still currently looking to fill about 1,300 temporary positions.
"It's no secret that every industry is dealing with this labor shortage due to the COVID-19 pandemic, especially the hospitality industry," said Condoianis.
They are urging people to signup through their website to apply. Jobs start at around $12.38 and go up from there.
“I can say, this will be my eighth State Fair and I have not seen us face this kind of outlook, of I guess the potential stress of having a labor shortage. I feel confident at this point in time that we're on a trajectory to be okay by opening day," said Condoianis. "All of our leaders feel confident that we will get there in time to host the full state fair this year. Everybody's really excited to welcome everyone back and to be able to operate a fair in general."
Outside of the 2,000 employees the State Fair of Texas pays, there are more than 7,000 job opportunities for vendors according to Condoianis.
The other challenge remains the ongoing pandemic which continues to be top of mind for organizers of any event.
In the last month, COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations have started to rise in North Texas and have become of concern to public health officials.
"We are constantly in conversations evaluating the latest guidance and protocols as they emerge from the national, state and local levels. Additionally, we encourage people to get vaccinated and we're in talks with Dallas County, to see what we can offer here at the fair while we're operating this fall," said Condoianis.
Over the last six months, Fair Park turned into a vaccination hub for people to raise up their sleeves and get a shot.
Dr. Philip Huang, head of Dallas County Health and Human Services, said after commissioner's court on Tuesday that the State Fair of Texas has been a great partner. He said they're working on possibly having an area to provide vaccines to fairgoers in the fall.
"We’re in conversations with them about trying to have a presence during the state fair also," said Huang.
Condoianis said there will be more than 500 sanitation stations on the fairgrounds and that they've invested in more than 300 new ones that are touchless.
She said since most attractions are outside, it helps with keeping patrons and staff safe.
"Be sure to check out the visitor's guide when you arrive and look at the map because, in order to spread people out and make sure that we create a safe environment, we've relocated a few things to help with that," said Condoianis.
In regards to masks, organizers said they're continuously having conversations, evaluating guidance and protocols as they emerge. If anything were to change, they would communicate that to guests.
"The majority of the fairgrounds are outdoors. So it will be a nice safe environment that you know and love and have come to expect from the State Fair of Texas," said Condoianis.
The State Fair of Texas runs from Sept. 24 to Oct. 17 and currently, season passes and premium tickets are on sale.
This year after 5 p.m. everyone is eligible for the kid price of admission
"I'm really excited about that. I can't wait to bring my family out and have a great time and I guess be a kid too," expressed Condoianis.
Also, on Wednesdays, if people bring 5 canned food items, they can get into the fair for $5.
The State Fair is estimated to have a $400 million economic impact in the area according to Condoianis.