For county youngsters, fair’s a chance to earn that first paycheck

MONROE — The elephant ears are frying, the Ferris wheel is rolling and the animals are strutting their stuff at the Evergreen State Fair.

While the fair is about food and fun for most people, it’s 12 days of hard work in the heat for others. As usual, hundreds of teens from around Snohomish County have found ways to earn extra cash at this summer’s event. Many are working their first-ever jobs at the fair while others are seasoned pros.

Madison Berry and Zoie Miller, both 19, of Gold Bar, fit into the latter category. They’ve been emptying the more than 300 garbage cans at the fairgrounds for four years now. It’s a dirty job, but they don’t mind doing it to earn cash for college.

Miller, who is about 5 feet tall and 90 pounds, said sometimes the garbage bags, which can weigh more than 100 pounds, are bigger than she is. That’s when she teams with Berry to get the bags where they need to go.

“I think you could say we enjoy it,” Berry said. “It’s a job that allows us to work and still have some summer left.”

Lexie Adams and Emily Beach, both 15, of Sultan, have found work serving fair food. They’re selling fresh-squeezed lemonade and salads alongside almost 70 other teens to earn money for their marching band. The girls sing tunes from movies, such as “The Lion King” and “My Girl,” in an effort to attract more customers. It also helps pass time during their six-hour shifts.

McKenna Dahlinger, 15, of Monroe, is running the “Farmer for a Day” exhibit as a way to make money for school. She shows kids how to milk the exhibit’s signature wooden cow, dig potatoes, collect chicken eggs and pick apples.

Sara De Young, 16, of Snohomish, also is making money and trying to earn college scholarships by showing her beef cattle.

“I’ve been around the cows a while,” the 11-year 4-H veteran said.

She shows her 12 head of Angus cattle, helps in the livestock barn and participates in a variety of events, including the junior loggers contest, roping competitions and the cow olympics.

She works year-round with her brother, Ryan De Young, 18, to get their cattle ready for the fair. The two wake before 5 a.m. every day to ensure their animals are fed and watered.

“It takes a lot out of our lives,” Sara De Young said. “Cows are our thing.”

Ryan De Young is this year’s top showman for 4-H beef cattle. He earned a scholarship, which he plans to use at Everett Community College this fall. The De Youngs said they enjoy the fair because they get to see a year’s worth of hard work pay off.

Amelia Hunt, 16, of Everett, found her first job helping people dress up at the fair’s Old Time Photo vendor. She is set on earning $2,000 for a mission trip to Albania next summer. Despite having to stand for most of her 10-hour shifts and deal with impatient customers, she said, she is giving the job her all.

“It’s definitely unique because a lot of kids have to work fast food for their first jobs,” she said.

Amy Nile: 425-339-3192; anile@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @AmyNileReports.

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