Dozens Line Up to Apply for State Fair Jobs
Many workers are drug tested and get background-checked before employment
PALMER - As the Alaska State Fair draws near, dozens of people lined up Tuesday to apply for a job with Golden Wheel Amusements (GWA), the company in charge of the rides.
In addition to submitting an application, each person is also drug tested right on the site and must have a fairly clean background.
“We don't hire anyone who has a felony, especially against women or children; they're not allowed to work here. We have hired people who have lost their license for a DUI,” said Andrea Davis, the business manager for GWA.
Not every employee on the fairgrounds is checked.
“We don't routinely background check the 3,000 performers, but most are performing onstage and don't have access to areas. If something is brought to our attention, we'll follow up,” said Marketing Director Dean Phipps.
The fair office uses the company Starplex to hire 300 security guards and parking attendants. About three-quarters of those return every year, but everyone hired for one of those jobs goes through a drug test and background check.
“This place is really secure and safe, we haven't had any problems,” said Starplex Manager Bill Scott.
To make sure all the rides are thoroughly checked before opening day, GWA hired an out-of-state independent consultant. Lewis Merz’s job is to ensure more than 30 rides are in proper working order, but he said checking the mechanics only go so far.
“Most incidents that occur are from the operator or patron that's doing something they're not supposed to be doing. Read the rules, pay attention to the operator, sit in your seat. Use your seat belts, lap bars and restraints,” said Merz.
The carnival and fair managers said they do what they can to give families peace of mind that the people who keep the fair running have been properly vetted.
The marketing director also said part of the fair’s contract with the band Creed is that concertgoers will have their backpacks searched for weapons and other illegal items before the show begins opening night. He said while that’s not common with most of the other acts, it’s a way the fair can make sure performers feel safe as well.