If you have called the main line to the State Fair at anytime over the last 18 years, there’s a good chance that you’ve talked to Mrs. Sandra. This time of year she estimates the main switchboard at the fair fields about 600 calls every day. Baker’s office is just inside the front doors of the administration building. Her office is filled with pictures of her family and collectible glass angels.
Before working for the fair, Baker spent 25 years as a long distance phone operator. “This was back when we had the long lines that we used to connect the calls,” she said. “Of course over the years we changed to different ways of connecting the calls.” The switchboard at the fair has changed. At one time, all the calls made to the fairgrounds were routed through the switchboard. Now, many of the calls go directly to employees.
Even when the fair is not in town, the switchboard stays busy. The fairgrounds hosts a variety of events each weekend, including car shows, antique shows and craft events that create a busy, festival-like atmosphere.
“When the buildings are full we get a lot of calls about show times, hours, admission,” Baker said. “The biggest challenge is keeping incoming calls from being delayed. And keeping your voice and tone even in spite of some of the questions you get asked.” Leading up to and during the fair, most of the questions concern cost of admission and hours of the fair.
Baker’s favorite thing about the fair is the concerts, especially when gospel acts perform at Dorton Arena. This year, she’s most excited about the Tamela Mann concert on Friday, Oct .18. She also hasn’t missed a Sunday church service in the small chapel in Heritage Circle in the 18 years she has worked for the fair. “I appreciate that they let me off on Sunday mornings so I can go to the church,” Baker said.
Like most employees at the fair, Baker has a favorite fair food: “I don’t eat a lot of the food out here, but I do love the Greek salad from John the Greek.”
“I have a lot of good memories out here at the fairgrounds,” Baker said. “One of my favorites was seven years ago when I had a party in the Martin Building to celebrate my 50th wedding anniversary. I really love my co-workers. Each year at the fair I love to see their children and how much they have grown.”
Baker is a native of Wendell. She has four children and four grandchildren. She is most proud that they have all finished college; two granddaughters even have master’s degrees.