Texas’ state fair opens with major labor shortage

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Food vendors say they have severe staff shortage

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state fair Texas Opened Friday but vendors warn the event has a Texas-sized problem: a lack of help.

Many food vendors told in the fair Granthshala 4 Thursday evening that they were feeling the nationwide labor shortage was rampant, and said customers should expect long lines to eat.

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“The thing we’re most afraid of is keeping up with customers,” said Kristi Arpilo, who with her sister, Johnna Mackie, owns Furnies Funnel Cake and Dock. “We’re still hiring as we speak.”

The sisters’ mother started the business several decades ago and the family is now serving at the fair for its 52nd year.

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“If we can make it to noon [Friday]”We can sit and cry, but it will be for a variety of reasons,” Mackie said. “We may be crying because we don’t have employees, we may be crying because we have too many customers.”

Jack Pyland, who owns Jack’s French Fries, expressed his own recruiting problems and concerns about staying in business.

“Whether we are ready or not, the fair is going to start,” he said before clarifying his position. “I usually hire 130 people. Two weeks ago, I had 30. I was younger than 100 people.”

Pyland said he was able to hire about 40 people over the past week, but his business is still completely off staff. He said his family has served in the event for 70 years.

The hiring crunch that hit business this year is another blow to vendors serving at the fair last year, when it was a drive-thru event due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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“There was no revenue,” Pyland said of the 2020 Texas State Fair. “All the revenue we took to do the drive-thru wasn’t a profit — just to keep the brand alive.”


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