Some fall attractions see challenges in hiring seasonal workers

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INDIANAPOLIS — As the fall season returns so do fall favorites like pumpkin patches, corn mazes and haunted houses. But, the operators of some of these attractions have had trouble finding people to work.

”We’ve got a long ways to go yet,” said Carol Waterman, the owner of Waterman’s Family Farm.

Waterman said she needs about 80 people to be fully operational when they open their Fall Harvest Festival at the end of September. ”We need people definitely by then but we need people before that to help us prepare to open too,” she said.

So far, Waterman said they only have about 30 employees ready to go. She said they have teenagers excited to work but they’re really suffering from an adult shortage. ”The teenagers are available and eager but we need some people who can be here during school hours as well,” Waterman said. She said she’s not sure what is making hiring even more difficult this year but hiring seasonal workers is always tough.

One person who gets the challenge of hiring seasonal workers is Jon Pianki, the Marketing Director of Indy Scream Park. “It can make for kind of a grueling work environment if you also have a full time job or if you’re not used to working evenings,” Pianki said.

Pianki said hiring started slow this year but has since picked up for them. He said there is a drop off between this year and last year, though. With more places back open, less people are looking for part time work. ”A lot of people are either trying to get back into regular full time jobs at this point or they’ve already found something from all of the jobs opening up previously.

One possible boost to the job market is the end of pandemic federal unemployment benefits. Andrew Butters, an Assistant Professor at the IU Kelley School of Business said he expects a slight bump in the job market but it’s too early to tell if it will be anything drastic. ”I would be cautious about reading too much into the very very preliminary data that has come in already,” Butters said.

As for Indy scream park, Pianki said hiring picked up and they have enough people to operate now, but they’re always looking for more.

It’s a different situation for Waterman’s Family Farm, Carol is worried if they don’t get enough employees they may have to close parts of the festival. ”If we’re not able to provide adequate supervision we would just not be able to let people do that particular thing,” she said.

Conner Prairie has also had a hard time hiring, to the point they have had to close down parts of its welcome center. “As with other local businesses, we are currently experiencing staffing shortages. With that in mind, you may notice some areas of the Welcome Center have to be temporarily closed down,” said a Conner Prairie spokesperson.

Not every Fall Favorite is struggling though, management at Beasley’s Orchard and Anderson Orchard said hiring has been fine.

Waterman said if you’re interested in working during the Fall Festival or at the Waterman Family Farm Market you can go to their website, call at 317-357-2989 or just stop by!

Likewise at Conner Prairie, the job application can be found on the Conner Prairie website.

And if you’re interested in scaring people, working customer service or any of the jobs it takes to run Indy Scream Park you can find the application on the Indy Scream Park website.

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