State Fair affords young Minnesotans valuable first job opportunities

They take the bus, they carpool or they have mom and dad drop them off at work because many of the people employed at the Minnesota State Fair aren’t old enough to have their own driver’s licenses yet.

Many people think back to their first jobs and think of the things they learned like being on time, accountability and working with others.

It’s hard to get an exact count, but thousands of young employees are part of what makes the fair possible.

It is Noah’s first time manning the fryer at the French Fry stand and he is loving it.

“I’ve eaten French fries for lunch almost every day that I’ve worked,” the 12-year-old joked.

15-year-old Mia is working the fair for the second year. She is working all 12 days.

“I’m looking at about $700,” she estimated. “Yeah, that’s a really good amount.”

Mia and Noah are two of the about 130 teens hired to serve up fries. At Sweet Martha’s, more than half of the 840 people hired are under 18. Same with the nearly 200 at the corn stand.

The list goes on all the way to the dairy building where young, first-time fair workers agree there’s an obvious perk: The food.

Proud to help young workers get their start, most of the hires are word of mouth. Plus, the fair hired another 500 16 and 17-year-olds for jobs ranging from sanitation and ticket-taking to filling job orders at various booths requesting them.

“They are a huge asset to have, so, school start times, that’s very important to us. We are very much in the loop, so we always push, along with the tourism industry, to have school start later. We need those 500 people,” said David Eckert, manager of Fresh French Fries.

What they lack in experience, those training the young work force say they bring in energy and eagerness.

“I actually started working here when I was 17 and I’ve been here 17 years,” Eckert said.

Everyone FOX 9 talked to agrees that the friendships made along the way are the best of all.

While many of the jobs are word of mouth, fair organizers do have an employment application opportunity that starts in November.