GREETERS It's not easy being a fair Howdy Girl
They spend about 60 hours a week handing out awards and greeting fair-goers.
By IAN HILL
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
CANFIELD -- Allison Dickey's picture has been taken with elephants and Clydesdale horses. She's been mistaken for a member of the Dixie Chicks and the 4-H Club. She's even spent time guarding the rooster.
It's all part of a Howdy Girl's day at the Canfield Fair.
"We just show up there and put a smile on," said Howdy Girl Sheila Stambach, 20, of Greenford.
The Howdy Girls are a group of four young women who serve as goodwill ambassadors for the fair. Their responsibilities include handing out awards at fair competitions and greeting fairgoers. The girls also attend fair concerts, fair board meetings and help protect the fair mascot from teen-agers looking to play pranks.
"We have to be on all four corners of the rooster," Dickey said.
That may sound simple. But according to Lee Stacey, director of publicity for the Canfield Fair board, the job of a Howdy Girl is anything but easy.
"They have to have stamina and energy and they have to be friendly the whole time," she said. "They're on the go the entire time the fair is on."
Stacey, who is responsible for hiring the Howdy Girls, said the girls typically work more than 60 hours during the week of the fair. They are paid minimum wage, she said.
Not bad: Stambach said she usually doesn't mind the long hours.
"If it's not hot, I'll work all day long," she said.
The Howdy Girls can be easily identified at the fair by their cowboy hats, vests and boots.
"We may not get to wear them [outside of the fair], but they're nice clothes," said Howdy Girl Valarie Crawford, 15, of Girard.
Hiring: Stacey said new Howdy Girls typically are selected based on the recommendation of past Howdy Girls. She said she interviews each prospective Howdy Girl to determine if they have the stamina and energy needed for the job.
Dickey, 16, of North Lima will work as a Howdy Girl for the second time at this year's fair. She also said her older sister served as a Howdy Girl in the past.
"It seemed like a lot of fun," Dickey said. "I spend a lot of time at the fair anyways."
Sarah Justice, 17, of Greenford, said she decided to work as a Howdy Girl, "just to try something new." Justice was hired this summer.
Both Dickey and Justice are students at South Range High School. Dickey will be a junior this fall, and Justice will be a senior.
Stambach, meanwhile, will be a senior this fall at the National Institute of Massotherapy in Akron. Crawford will be a sophomore at Cardinal Mooney High School. Both Stambach and Crawford also served as Howdy Girls last year.
Each of the girls said they like attending the fair concerts as Howdy Girls, and Crawford also said she enjoys working behind the scenes of the fair.
"You get to see what's going on," she said.