U students make extra cash at fair

Brady Averill

For the last eight years, Tyler Parsons has served foot-longs to hungry Minnesota State Fair-goers.

Working at the fair has become a tradition for many University students. For Parsons, it’s become an annual job where he can work with family and friends before returning to classes in the fall.

“It’s sort of a family business. I work with my grandpa,” he said.

Several University students, like Parsons, said they work at the state fair to earn money, meet people and take advantage of the perks.

Fair officials said they have no idea how many college students work at the fair, but there are a lot, said Minnesota State Fair Employment Services Supervisor Pam Johnson.

“It’s a fun place to work,” she said.

Only 12 days long and on the edge of the University’s St. Paul campus, state fair jobs work well for many University students, she said.

Parsons can’t complain. After anticipating the money he would make at the fair, he worked only a few weeks this summer at small jobs.

Preferring quick ways to earn money, he’s got it now. The rush of 12 hours per day for 12 consecutive days puts hundreds of dollars in many of the employees’ pockets.

He said he probably made about $1,000.

“It’s a nice boost to your income right before school,” the University senior said.

In her third year at the fair, sophomore Quinn Van Ness worked at a fruit smoothie stand.

“Each year, I’m like, I’m not going to work at the state fair again because it’s too hard,” the North St. Paul native said.

“I worked here before, and I just thought it would be a good way to end the summer,” she said.

Having worked making lemonade and mini doughnuts in the past, Van Ness came back this year for the money and the excitement at the fairgrounds.

Though she said she remembered standing inside a sweltering, cramped food stand for days on end, the pay and occasional cash bonus make the hard work worth it.

State Fair jobs often slow students from moving into college housing or preparing for the school year.

With only a few days to spare before fall classes begin, Van Ness still hadn’t found campus housing or bought supplies. For the meantime, she’ll have to remain at her parents’ house in North St. Paul.

“I’m kinda nervous that I won’t be able to buy things I need (before school),” she said.

Unlike Van Ness, Original Corn Fritters employee Ciera Loehrer took Saturday off from the fair to move into Middlebrook Hall.

It will be the only day the first-year student took off.

In her first year working at the fair, she found her job deep-frying corn kernels in a sourdough batter with the help of a friend.

Loehrer said she didn’t take the job to make money, instead, to stay busy.

Closing on Monday night, the state fair rests until next August.

For University students, there’s no break before the first day of classes. Going back to class today will be a welcomed break from the tiring, daylong fair routine, students said.

“Starting school is kind of like going on vacation,” Parsons said. “You get to sit down and relax.”