Thousands pack job fair, many turned away

WILLIAMSBURG, VA (WWBT) - Thousands of people showed up Saturday at Busch Gardens hoping to get a job. The park is hiring hundreds of temporary workers for the summer, but more people showed up than organizers expected.

The good news is nearly 600 people are going to get a new job after the fair. The bad news is, several thousand people showed up for one of those jobs.

Busch Gardens started turning people away before the fair was even halfway done.

It took more three hours for Jamel Tirado to get to Busch Gardens.

"This is bus number four I just got off of," Tirado said.

He's one of several thousand people that came to the park Saturday hoping for a job.

"I was kind of excited," he said.  "My cousin told me about it the other day. I was like, 'I'll be there.'"

But unfortunately for Jamel, he was too late to get one of those jobs.

People at Busch Gardens say there were job seekers lined up hours before the job fair opened, and only an hour in, it was already at capacity and security had to start turning people away.

"Seriously?" Tirado said.  "After I just took this two and a half, three hour trip and I got two and a half to three hours to get back home, this is a major disappointment."

Organizers at Busch Gardens say they were overwhelmed with the number of people that showed up. Each year the park hires temporary workers. This year it says it will employ a total of 5000 people.

Call it a sign of the times, but job fairs in Richmond nowadays always seem to draw a big crowd.

Richmond's employment rate of 8.6 percent is just a tenth of a percent higher than the national average. But Henrico, Chesterfield and Hanover are all well below that mark.

The economic news this week was mixed. Home Depot is also hiring seasonal workers - 70,000 nationwide.  But thousands of people are about to lose their jobs after Food Lion announced it's closing 113 stores nationwide, including two in Richmond.

For Jamel, he says he's still holding out hope he'll find a new job.

"Something stable, something I can build on for some years and to continue to take care of my family," Tirado said.

Busch Gardens says it will hire about 3000 more people as the summer season approaches.

If you missed out on Saturday's job fair, you can still apply online at

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