OC Fair offers 'fair food drive-thru' after COVID-19 prompts cancellation

Like most large events, the COVID-19 pandemic canceled the 2020 Orange County Fair this year. But organizers came up with a way to still offer a way for popular food vendors to serve up their various treats, while customer remain safely in their cars.

"People didn't have access to fair food until today. And we're so happy to have worked with some of our concessionaires to develop this fair food drive-thru. People are coming from all over the county to get their 'fair food fix' today," said Michelle Richards, CEO of the OC Fair and Events Center, right after cutting a large ribbon and welcoming the first cars in.

"This is great, because most of the vendors you see here have trailers, and it's specific for one type of service, and that is for a fairground. This gives people a wonderful opportunity to taste the fair food again, even though we didn't have a fair this year," said Jan Gary, who operates the Dippin' Dots ice cream concession.

If you have a fair favorite, it could be here in a section of the fairgrounds coned off as a one-way set of lanes right near Adams near Fairview.

"We've been participating in the Orange County Fair for 25 years. Juicy's is famous for its turkey legs, and its big giant sausage and curly fries. And also one of the most popular items we have at the Fairview years are funnel cakes," said Brett Enright, owner of Juicy's.

What asked which is his personal favorite, he said "Funnel cake, with powdered sugar and strawberries." He also noted that his funnel cakes are made completely from scratch, starting with the batter.

Hot Dog on a Stick was busy making its famous deep-fried corn dogs in its colorful trailer, along with fresh-squeezed lemonade. For a dessert treat, Cathy's Cookies is set up to dispense its signature chocolate chip cookies, either by the sleeve or a tub to take home. They also offer an ice cream sandwich. Like other vendors, owner Cathy Johnson has seen a sharp decrease in business lately with public events being cancelled.

If you want something a little less high-calorie, Hawaiian Chicken Bowl had one of the longer lines, with employees taking orders in the coned-off drive-up lane as quickly as they could.

"We're one of the healthier foods at the fair, so the healthier people will come to us," said Peyton Stroh, whose family owns the concession. In addition to the chicken for the bowls, they're also grilling up huge turkey legs right next to the drive-thru lane.

Given the long lines on opening day, the management of the OC Fair seemed very pleased that the fair food drive-thru is working out.

"What a great turnout. The community is saying 'we want our fair food,' and we want to make sure that our concessionaires are benefiting from that as well," said CEO Michelle Richards.

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