Big Fresno Fair draws in workers from across the world

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) —

Behind every wonderfully deep fried combination and delicious creation at the Big Fresno Fair is a team of behind the scene hard workers. Employees come from far and wide to work six to 10 months out of the year and traveling the fair and carnival circuit.

“I schedule in 20 to 25 employees to come travel with us because they stay with us they travel with us,” vendor Lola Ramirez explained.

Vendors like Ramirez hire their employees each year through an international work visa program. Most of her cooks have been with her for the better part of two decades through the program.

“In the beginning, they go and they’re young and they’ll go spend it on a bunch of stuff,” she said. “But then they go and do something else for where ever they come from – Mexico or Poland or South Africa – they’ll do something. They’ll help their family. A lot of them make their own businesses.”

Ania De La Hoyde started working fairs at a different booth 10-years ago from Poland through the same visa program. She now lives in the US and operates the famous Lobster Fries booth.

“Our kitchen staff is mostly from Mexico and our counter is mostly European, like Poland and Turkey, so we try to mix it up a little bit,” she explained.

On the road for most of the year, the life of a traveling fair vendor can be grueling. Vendors said the program allows them to hire a team of workers at the start of the year rather than having to hire and train new employees at each stop.

“The work visa is really perfect for our business because our business is so seasonal so there for its really hard to find someone who is willing to leave their family to travel with us six or eight months a year,” De La Hoyde said.

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