Fair management estimates around 7,500 job seekers showed up, hoping to fill one of more than 1,000 positions available. Those who get hired won't begin working until August at the earliest and in many cases, the pay is minimum wage. Still, people lined up and waited for hours, eager for any kind of employment. "Whatever they have I'm basically willing to do," said Gustavo Leon, Jr. of Sanger.
"I can cashier, I can do concessions, I can prep, and if I have to I can clean bathrooms. I can do a lot of stuff. I have many abilities, I just need to get my feet in the door and get a job," said Dawn Bracamonte of Fresno.
This was the fair's first ever job fair and turnout exceeded management's expectations. Some people lined up before 5 a.m. this morning. Once inside, people waited in lines again, hoping to make a good impression in front of hiring supervisors.
While fair managers said they were thrilled at the opportunity to consider so many applicants, they also acknowledged this is a stark reminder of the Valley's unemployment crisis. In the line for janitorial work, Don Slade met several applicants who were clearly overqualified for the positions available. "Everybody needs a job; everybody needs to support themselves, even though it's 12 days. They're here. In a way, you want to pat them on the back for knowing they're overqualified and they're willing to go down a level or two to be able to work," said Slade.
Other applicants attended the job fair to look for first jobs, hoping to build their resumes. Even those who left without an offer are optimistic they'll be called back. "He put a star on there right now. I'm thinking that's a great thing," said Craig Bell of Clovis.
The Big Fresno Fair said more than 100 positions were filled Wednesday. Most of the jobs will last between two to eight weeks and many can expect to start working sometime around Labor Day.
If you missed Wednesday's job fair, you still have a chance to apply. Applications are still being accepted at the administration office, during normal business hours.