Fair worker Darin Harpold, 15, does what many believe is the worst job at the Jackson County Fair: lifts the heavy bags of trash into the Dumpster. - Christin Palazzolo

'What, and quit show business?'

Mild temperatures at the Jackson County Fair may make the week more pleasant for fairgoers, but it makes life exponentially better for another group of people — the "trashbusters."

But just because trash isn't melting into gooey piles of who-knows-what on the steamy asphalt doesn't mean the job is all roses, either.

Sixteen-year-olds Jennifer Mulane and Stephanie McNealy of Crater High School have donned the yellow trash T-shirts for the second year in a row. The pair spent Wednesday morning cleaning up the remnants of Tuesday's Lynyrd Skynyrd concert.

"We are covered in beer," Jennifer said, referring to the half-empty containers that littered the grounds of the Lithia Motors Amphitheater. "There was like a billion huge bottles of wine."

While working their way through the grounds, the girls said they came across some unusual debris.

"We found a cooking pot full of eggs," Jennifer said with a slight cringe. "And a tire rim."

The trashbusters are a group of Crater students enlisted for cleanup duty by one of their teachers. Every two hours the workers trade assignments.

"The worst is on food row," Stephanie said, "or dumping the trash into the Dumpsters."

Nearby, Zac Uhles, 18, and Darin Harpold, 15, were hauling trash with an ATV and trailer to the large green garbage can. As she tossed a bag over the edge, Darin tried to avoid the murky splatter dripping from the bottom.

"C'mon, you can do it," Uhles encouraged.

Uhles said he appreciated the weather he was working in on Wednesday afternoon.

"Last night it was raining," he said, "so it wasn't just trash — it was water, too. When the Dumpsters fill up I have to jump on it and mash it down.

"That's my job."

About 150,000 people will flock to this week's fair for food and fun that wouldn't be possible without nearly 400 employees and volunteers.

One such employee, Jacob Nichols, was monitoring several batches of fries and hot grease at the Southern Oregon Food and Beverage stand. He anxiously awaited the afternoon rush that left his arms marked with splatter burns from the day before.

"It's hot back here," Nichols said. "This is the worst spot to work."

The men toiling at the Crater Foundation's soda stand weren't envious of several fair jobs.

"I don't think running these rides would be a lot of fun," Bill Ryan said, taking advantage of shade under the stand's canopy.

He added that he wouldn't want to "clean out the restrooms," either.

Another of the Pepsi-dispensing employees said something most of the cleanup crew would probably take offense to.

"Those trashbusters don't have it too bad," said Harvey Tonn. "It would be bad to work in the parking lot when it gets hot."

Covered by his red trucker's hat and with orange flag in hand, 14-year-old Skyler Prislac said he was perfectly content directing traffic.

"I probably wouldn't want to be one of the food vendors," Skyler said. "My job's been all right. It's supposed to be cool all week."

Back along "food row," Daneen Atchley, 16, worked with a broom in one hand and a scoop in the other. This is her second year as a member of the trashbusters team.

"At first, I was like, I didn't want to do it again," Daneen said. "But, it's fun. I haven't had to clean anything gross — not yet."

Jennifer, who started at minimum wage last year, said she came back to the job because it offers an annual raise. She said things were much worse during last year's fair.

"Along food row, if people throw up it's our job," she said. "Last year one girl had to clean it up like five times in one shift."

She added that she's happy with the work as long as she can avoid one of the assignments.

"I hate working the Dumpsters," Jennifer said.

Reach intern Bob Albrecht at 776-8791 or e-mail

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