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Drive-Thru County Fair Food Festivals Spring Up Across the US

News Food + Drink
by Nickolaus Hines May 13, 2020

State and county fairs across the United States have been put on hold, but nothing, it seems, can get in the way of our love for deep-fried food on a stick. Fair food festivals have popped up or are in the works across the country from the Northeast to the West Coast and every other compass-oriented region. And to maintain a safe social distance, these slices of Americana are relying on an old American favorite: the drive-thru.

Food & Wine found a bevy of these drive-thru events in operation. Carnival Eats Syracuse in New York has deep-fried Oreos, while the Big Fresno Fair in California has tacos and margaritas. Tulare and Merced, both also in California, are on the list, too, as well as spots in Florida, Missouri, and Ohio.

As more and more state and county fairs officially cancel their 2020 events (the Oregon State Fair and North Dakota State Fair are two of the latest), people have been finding ways to keep the spirit alive. Some parts of the fair experience have switched to online, like the goat and pig showings, according to The New York Times.

For something as dependent on smells and tastes as fried food, however, nothing compares to the real thing. People are just fine making their own sourdough starters and bread at home, but preparing double fried Twinkies and funnel cake is a step too far. If you can’t eat these snacks in a corn field surrounded by a Ferris wheel and a man hauling his giant pumpkin to the “world’s largest vegetables” booth, then why bother? Thankfully the drive-thru option lets you enjoy these greasy, sugary treats from your front seat — where you can see your fellow fair goers from a safe distance.

The car has proven to be a social distancing savior the past couple of months, and not just in the US. Denmark held a drive-in concert, while Vilnius, in Lithuania, converted its empty airport tarmacs into a drive-in theater. In the states, car culture has a long history, so it’s no surprise that our personal vehicles are poised to take us to a new normal. Let’s just take a moment to be grateful that our new normal will still allow us to eat corn dogs from a yellow-and-red-roofed stand this summer.

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