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How are labor shortages affecting fairs this summer?

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Posted at 12:23 PM, Jun 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-25 20:06:30-04

DE PERE (NBC26) — Wisconsin State Fair officials announced changes to this year's state fair, many of which are due to a labor shortage. The fair will have different operating hours than in years past.

The fair will be open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. each day, with the exception of the final Sunday. It'll close at 10 p.m. Sunday. All food vendors, shopping, buildings and SpinCity will also open at 11 a.m.

Parking lots will open at 10:30 a.m., and agriculture and competitive exhibit competitions that were previously scheduled for before 11 a.m. will continue to take place. The state fair will run from August 5th to August 15th.

Tess Kerksen, the public relations manager for the Wisconsin State Fair Park, says the operating hours were changed in order to shorten shifts to mitigate the labor shortage. She also says the state fair decided to have cashless parking and admissions in order to reduce the amount of staff and kiosks needed.

"Like everyone in the entertainment industry, we are having our challenges for our labor shortage right now," Kerksen said. "We've had a job fair, we've had hiring events and we're really working on getting a robust staff for the 2021 Wisconsin State Fair."

The state fair is encouraging visitors to purchase their tickets beforehand in order to simplify the entrance process.

"Since we are going cashless at our admission and parking entrance we definitely want you to have that ticket in hand before you get here just to reduce contact and have a smoother, more streamlined entrance process," Kerksen said.

The labor shortage has also taken a toll on the Brown County Fair in the past year. Kathy Ambrosius, a Brown County Fair Board member, says the labor shortage had a large impact on the fair last year.

"The work crew was not able to come in and help us set up. It takes us a week to set up the fair, we turn a park into a fairgrounds, and then it takes us a week to take it all back down," Ambrosius said. "We did not have that labor so many of us on the Fair Board needed to step up that pace."

However, she says this year workers are back in full force.

"We are able to have our workforce come in this year which we did not last year," Ambrosius said. "We have a great group of people on our fair board, we all pitch in, we all work hard, and it's actually going to be very good for us this year."

She says the Brown County Fair will not have limited hours this year. The Brown County Fair will run from August 18th to August 22nd. To see the full schedule you can visit browncountyfair.com