Gatekeepers in golden shirts occupy the exits and entrances at the Missouri State Fair’s pregame — the State Fair Campgrounds.
These temporary employees, working a job that does security, customer service and bookkeeping — under the August heat — are typically still in high school or fresh out.
Ryan Collins, an 18-year-old Smith-Cotton graduate, said the 2016 Missouri State Fair is his fourth year as a temporary employee.
“It was actually my first job,” Collins said. “It’s reliable. I can depend on it to get quick money over the summer.”
The job appears simple: collect cash from campers and log reservations. Collins, working at an exit Wednesday, spent a chunk of time waving or flashing a thumbs-up gesture to cars leaving the grounds.
Alexa Gutierrez, 15, works a 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. shift with Collins and her friend Jzhia Allwood on days she does not have morning volleyball practice at Sacred Heart. She said while folks are usually friendly, campers sometimes ask questions she can’t answer.
“People are nice here,” Gutierrez said. “If they ask a question and I don’t know, they get all mad, but I haven’t gotten a person who’s mean.”
Sometimes customer service takes a turn for the weird, Allwood said.
“This one lady … she was calling her husband, she was trying to find him,” Allwood said. “She had a bluetooth thing in the car and she was like, ‘CALL LARRY, MY MAN TOY.’”
Allwood, 17, and Gutierrez met last year at the Missouri State Fair working the same job for the first time. Gutierrez said Allwood sent her a Snapchat to ensure her friend was working the Fair again. The two plan to attend Opening Day of the Fair together after work.
“I like the food, the atmosphere, the roadhouse and just seeing everybody out there,” Allwood said of the Fair. “I’m going to take a nap first.”
Alex Agueros can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1483 or on Twitter @abagueros2