Workers strive for clean fair

CNJ staff photo: Liliana Castillo Gloria Eldridge has worked as part of the cleaning crew for the Curry County Fair for eight years. Her duties include picking up trash from the grounds and cleaning offices and bathrooms.

By Gabriel Monte: CNJ Staff Writer

As fairgoers stroll through the fairgrounds, look up at the lights of the carnival or watch the attractions, Gloria Eldridge and Gloria Rodriguez keep their eyes on the ground and look for trash.

Called the “Two Glorias” by fair officials, Eldridge, 70, and Rodriguez, 52, are part of the maintenance crews that clean up during the fair.

“They call us Gloria one and Gloria two,” said Rodriguez.

County Maintenance Manager Lee Delk said 16 people are working two eight-hour shifts during the week-long event including part time cleaners hired just for the fair and regular county employees.

He said volunteers from Teen Court and prisoners from the Curry County Detention Center also help maintain the grounds.

Working the morning shift, Eldridge said her day starts at 6:30 a.m. emptying trash cans, cleaning the restrooms and “anything that needs to be cleaned.”

Hauling cleaning supplies and a trash can, Eldridge and Rodriguez travel around the fairgrounds in a green John Deere utility vehicle picking up after fairgoers that litter the grounds with water bottles and food wrappers.

“They’ll be standing next to the trash cans and still throw their (trash) on the ground,” said Eldridge.

The two had to clean up after youths who spilled liquid soap over the restroom floor during the first day of the fair, said Eldridge.

But this year’s fair is easier to clean up compared to last year, according to Eldridge who has worked during the fair for eight years.

“Last year was messy,” she said.

Some of last year’s litter they don’t see much of this year are beer cans and alcohol containers.

Rodriguez said she has found a small empty whiskey bottle in a toilet.

Alcohol is not allowed during the fair, according to Delk. He said the county’s zero-tolerance policy has had an effect on the number of beer bottles and cans found around the fair.

“Normally, it’s beer can city,” said Delk, referring to past fairs.

Delk said the animal stables are cleaned by the exhibitors who bring waste to a central location where maintenance crews dispose of it.

Eldridge, a retired nurse who now works cleaning houses, and Rodriguez said they look forward to working at the fair every year.

“It’s hard work, but it’s a nice place to work,” Rodriguez said