The online student news source of Lovejoy High School

The Red Ledger

The online student news source of Lovejoy High School

The Red Ledger

The online student news source of Lovejoy High School

The Red Ledger

Faces of the Fair: Lester Jenkins

Water vendor job provides Dallas man opportunity to help himself, his mother
Grace Nguyen
Lester Jenkins sells the cheapest water in the Fair Park at the price of only two tickets near the entrance of the State Fair. He loves the job and plans on returning every year.

If he’s “bein’ honest,” Lester Jenkins has been on the streets of Dallas since he was 15, and he needed money.

Needed money after his car wreck. Needed money after losing his job when Johnson Brothers Moving Company moved out of state. And especially needed money to “head on and get a better wheelchair” for his 89-year-old mom, because “the things she really needs, the check don’t cover.”  

Walking around, Lester noticed “a ‘lotta people down there” that one day at the Martin Luther King Center, lining up to fill out applications.

“What’s the commotion?” Lester Jenkins asked no one in particular.

“Well, they’re hiring at Fair Park,” someone in the crowd responded.

Well, Lester Jenkins was “lookin’ for a job,” lookin’ for money, too.  And after filling out an application, making sure “you been clean,” and completing a background check, Lester was hired at the State Fair of Texas.

For the 24 days the Fair is open, Lester will work with plenty of other “guys who’ve been in trouble,” homeless people, and panhandlers who were given a chance to work just like he was.

“You’ve got a ‘lotta guys out here livin’ in shelters and everything that are willing to work,” Lester said. “[The fair] give[s] back to the community.”

Surrounded by Big Tex refillable kids’ cups, Lester stands behind a metal, white-painted vendor stand, arms outstretched with a bottle of ice cold water in each hand.

He sells water for only two coupons, the cheapest water at the fair, and with a gold-toothed grin as he shouts:

“Cold water! Only two tickets! Ice cold water right here!” He puts emphasis on the two and makes eye contact with every fair-goer walking past the Chevrolet Main Stage. Only two tickets. Compared to the eight-ticket water on the Midway, it’s a steal.

“Meetin’ people, talking to people, makin’ people laugh and having fun” are at the top of Lester’s list of  “best parts of the job.” He knows “people like to be treated with respect,” that’s why every order of two-coupon water ends with a “thank you” or “you’re welcome.”

“You learn to be more responsible, and you push yourself to do a lot of things,” Lester said. “You watch people, [and] people watch you.”

“You got people all over the world come here” to the State Fair, and Lester hopes to give just about all of them an ice cold bottle of water as soon as they walk through the front gates.

It’s his first year working at Fair Park, but Lester already knows he’ll be back because the State Fair is “just a ‘lotta fun.”

“It’s just good.”

“It really is great.”

“It’s just awesome, man.”

“I’ll come back next year and next year and next year, and before you know it, I’ll be comin’ back here in a wheelchair, you know what I’m sayin’?”

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About the Contributors
Kelsey Carroll, Section Editor
Senior Kelsey Carroll has never owned a dog or a cat, but she’s the proud caretaker of two mini cacti living their life on her windowsill, and she thinks that’s just enough. She never forgets to water them weekly, as she’s a fond planner user who prides herself on writing down just about any task, even “write staff bio,” which she just proudly accomplished. When she’s not strumming twangy ukulele chords in her bedroom on the weekends or attempting to play a cello countermelody in class during the week, Kelsey can be found dancing to whatever plays in her earbuds (which are constantly on her) while editing photos until her laptop battery dies each night. Her days start before the sun’s up at swim team, and end with her furiously deciding which of her 16 pairs of Harry Potter socks to wear the next day. Whether she’s shooting sideline photos and dodging officials on the football field, or manning a jumbotron camera for the fans to see, Kelsey loves to be involved in any visual coverage she can get her hands on. Although she’s soft spoken, Kelsey hopes to share stories through her photos and writing as she tackles her roles as photographer, community editor, and social media editor during her fourth and final year on staff.
Grace Nguyen, Section Editor
Fueled daily by three iced vanilla coffees, standing at 5’2”, Grace Nguyen will walk into the E103 door with no problem. Grace is entering senior year, and the only reason she is believed to have survived high school is because of the napping couch in the photography studio. During her time on staff, Grace has been to almost every football game, win or loss, and wouldn’t have changed a thing. Yes, Grace has been tackled by football players, run over by coaches, and body slammed by referees. Nonetheless, Grace will confidently walk on the field this year, bruises and all, alongside her sideline media team. Stepping outside the newsroom, which is rare, Grace enjoys playing softball, hanging out with family and friends, and finding excuses to go to every $3 Pazookie Tuesdays at BJ’s. After high school, Grace hopes to pursue a career in sports photojournalism, so watch out for her still getting run over by athletes on ESPN in the years to come. Although it’s bittersweet to leave newspaper upon graduation, Grace is thankful for all the opportunities that she’s had on staff. Through The Red Ledger, Grace created long-lasting friendships and won a lot of awards that she never imagined was possible. Grace hopes that current and future staffers will think of this national-award-winning publication the same way as she did–a second family and their home away from home.

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