PHOENIX — Among the muddy cowboy boots, late-night RV dance parties and creative beer bongs typically displayed at Arizona’s annual Country Thunder music festival in Florence, concertgoers will also see a new recruitment booth for U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
The booth at the April 6-9 event is part of a sponsorship package purchased by the agency for $15,000. It also includes advertising at both U.S. Country Thunder festivals in Arizona and Wisconsin, said Shirley Chen Barry, CBP’s director of marketing and advertising.
Though it’s not the first time CBP has sponsored the event, it is the first time the agency will have an in-person recruitment booth. The upgrade is part of an effort to hire more Border Patrol agents, as well as port of entry officers and air and marine interdiction agents.
The agency is pushing to fill several thousand job vacancies, which existed even before President Trump’s recent call for 5,000 more Border Patrol agents, said Kelly Ursu, recruitment program manager in Tucson.
The agency sponsors events that are likely to bring about “good quality applicants,” she said. “We ask recruits coming in what they like to do in their off-time to see what areas we should look at,” Ursu said. “A lot of applicants ... have expressed interest in Country Thunder or music festivals.”
Uniformed CBP agents will be at the booth talking to prospective applicants and passing out flyers, she said, though all applications must be submitted online.
Country music lovers can also expect to see CBP commercials on the Jumbotron, banners throughout the venue and an honor guard during the National Anthem, Chen Barry said.
Last year’s Country Thunder in Florence attracted more than 27,000 people, said Gerry Krochak, the event’s director of marketing and sales.
Danny Hoggatt, 23, of Phoenix, attended the last three festivals, often with a friend who is a Border Patrol agent.
He plans on checking out the booth, spurred by an interest in law enforcement. “There’s a lot of good people that go to Country Thunder and I’m sure many of them are looking for a job,” he said.