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Tight-knit crew strives to keep Oklahoma State Fair sparkling clean

Each day of the Oklahoma State Fair, about 173 temporary workers clear tons of waste from the fairgrounds in Oklahoma City.
by Juliana Keeping Modified: September 16, 2012 at 8:41 pm •  Published: September 17, 2012

Monte Davis gathered in front of a crowd of workers, amid trucks, trailers and cleaning supplies at the Oklahoma State Fair.

It was 9:30 a.m. Sunday and time for the group's daily pep talk.

Davis, an operations manager for Waste Connections, reminded the workers not to engage with guests who are rude to them — often those who've had too much to drink. He complimented the work the temporary staff had done Saturday, the third day of the fair.

“We all know the third day's a butt kick.”

And then he left them with some encouraging words.

“Go out there and do it like we do.”

What they do is clean. About 173 temporary workers per day are tasked with clearing the fairgrounds of all types of waste. Davis estimated Waste Connections hauled 35 tons of trash from the grounds Saturday alone.

Scrubbing bathrooms, cleaning away animal waste and picking up trash from 525 blue barrels placed on the sprawling fairgrounds are among his workers' duties. It's not a glamorous gig.

Jackee Petit, building supervisor for Waste Connections who oversees 30 staff members tasked with keeping bathrooms clean, knows that much. She makes a point to greet staffers warmly.

“Hey sugar, thank you for coming,” she tells one worker, doling out a hug. “Ya'll have a great day, OK?”

They set off for their posts at 10 a.m., when guests are trickling in but the line for a giant cinnamon bun already is long.

Davis heads out in a golf cart outfitted with Oklahoma City Thunder flags. Despite the temporary job title, there is loyalty among workers to the state fair, he said. Some with full-time jobs use their vacation to work at the fair. One woman drives a scooter from NW 29 and N Classen Boulevard get to her post at a fairground bathroom every day.

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by Juliana Keeping
Enterprise Reporter
Juliana Keeping is on the enterprise reporting team for The Oklahoman and Keeping joined the staff of The Oklahoman in 2012. Prior to that time, she worked in the Chicago media at the SouthtownStar, winning a Peter Lisagor Award...
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