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Country Fair Food Booth Staffers Savor Their Jobs

Karen Richards

Oregon Country Fair is a place people can escape their everyday lives. One of the larger industries at the fair is food service. Many people leave their normal jobs to work at the fair's various food booths.

Merrill Smith works at La Tortilla, better known as "??the chalupa booth." He runs a bakery in Ashland. But most of his employees this weekend are not in food service. Smith says his workers are flight attendants, yoga instructors, tree planters, and parents. He enjoys working here because...

Smith: ?"There's no boss. There's no bosses here. Everyone's pretty much communal and getting along real well. I think it's probably the culture of the fair, because there's no actual boss at the fair. It's a consort of individuals who run things. But nobody makes unilateral decisions."??

Gavin Place grew up attending the fair. Since he was a toddler, he's worked at Hemp House Grill, which his mother founded.

Place: "My normal job is really slow paced and I don't get out that much and see people and interact with people, so it's nice to get out there and be with the people."??

Mike Quidell has been coming from eastern Oregon to work the grill at Cart de Frisco for six years.

Credit Karen Richards
Mike Quidell mans the grill at Cart de Frisco.

Quidell: "??I'm a people person, a people watcher. I love to watch everybody and this environment is, I don't know, it goes to your soul, you know? [laughs]."

Maisie Titterington is a high school student. She works at Get Fried Rice.

Titterington: "??It's fun because it's really laid back at this booth. You just kind of work as much as you need in order to earn the food that you take. And so it's flexible hours and everybody's really sweet and everybody can do every job, so it's kind of like everybody helping each other out."

Many people come back each year so they can work with their friends in food service. Thousands of people attend the fair, and they all need to eat. They can be sure the people serving them are enjoying it as much as they are.

copyright, 2014 KLCC

Karen Richards joined KLCC as a volunteer reporter in 2012, and became a freelance reporter at the station in 2015. In addition to news reporting, she’s contributed to several feature series for the station, earning multiple awards for her reporting.
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