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Salem Fair creates jobs for international and local workers

Dozens from South Africa and Mexico are working on H2B visas

SALEM, Va. – The 30th annual Salem Fair is expected to bring in 350,000 people, and it's also bringing in jobs.

The Salem Fair is a summertime staple in the Roanoke Valley. You may not know, however, that many of the people working to make the magic happen come from other countries. 

"Thirty-five are are employed from South Africa and Mexico on what's called an H2B visa," said Heidi Deggeller, operations manager of Midway provider Deggeller Attractions, which brings in the international workers for the nine-month fair season every year.

"We are seasonal and it is very difficult to get an American employee to work for you when you lay off in November, right before the holidays. That's when our season ends," Deggeller said.

For international workers, it's an opportunity they may not get otherwise.

"The economies in South Africa and Mexico are quite dreadful. Finding a job is even more difficult than finding one in America and so they really have no choice," Deggeller said.

That's the case for Chane Dunn, who's from Cape Town, South Africa.

"When you come here and you go back home, you have a lot of money, you know? And jobs are not very easy to come by in South Africa and with this, it's kind of like you can go have a vacation," Dunn said.

This is her sixth year working for the midway company.

"As hard as it is, we do it every year because we know that we can provide for our families at home," Dunn said.

It’s an opportunity for success that stretches far beyond the Roanoke Valley.

"We come here every year, very far, to have fun and we would like them to have fun, too," Dunn said.

The Salem Fair also means jobs for locals. Midway organizers say they hired 25 people from the Roanoke Valley for the two-week stint.