In place of this year’s state fair cancellation, the fair offered three weekends of drive-through food following in accordance with the decision of the Washington State Fair Board of Directors.
The vote deciding the cancellation was made after reviewing recommendations made by the Washington State Fair’s management team and information regarding the coronavirus pandemic, along with Gov. Jay Inslee’s phased reopening plan. Following the fair’s CEO Kent Hojem’s message and official cancellation statement, the fair’s staff and seven selected vendors opened a drive-through route for “fair food.”
“We offered something that nobody else in the state could do,” said Stacy Van Horne, public relations manager for the Washington State Fair.
A number of people were able to drive in and out of the fair at a good pace during certain times of the day, Horne explained. For example, visitors around the 11 a.m. start time were able to leave between 15 to 30 minutes after arriving.
Other attendees waited in vehicle lines for more than two hours, with the closing time for vendors being at 7 p.m. each day.
Horne explained that the event went very well. At the beginning of the first weekend event, the Fair’s staff and its vendors didn’t know what to expect. Operating and managing the event became easier as the day progressed, she continued. Staff generally saw an approximated 1,600 vehicles drive through the fair on most days.
The second weekend started on July 10 and the third began on July 17, with all three weekends lasting three days each.
The fairground’s layout was divided into lanes, which included the usage of bypass lanes. Earthquake’s Biggest Burgers, Duris Elephant Ears, Sales Family-Krusty Pup and Fischer Scones were four of the seven vendors available. Payments to vendors were completed by credit or debit card only, according to the Fair’s website.
“It’s not meant to be like McDonald’s… a lot of people come for the mystique of being able to drive onto the grounds,” said Horne.
Vendors were located at various stops throughout the grounds, with food available to-go for purchase. Visitors and staff had to abide by social distancing and sanitary guidelines, with visitors staying in their vehicles at all times, while vendors or other fair personnel wore face coverings and other necessary equipment.
Phase four of Gov. Inslee’s Safe-Start plan would allow the Spring fair of 2021 to remain as scheduled, though the Fair is bound by the health and safety guidelines and executive decision of the governor. A number of people are asking for the Fair Food drive-through to continue and, while the possibility has been considered, the exact dates would be unknown for a repeat event.
As mentioned in the released video statement about the Fair’s 2020 cancellation, its people and visitors are an essential part of the Fair’s general contents. The health and safety of its people are the top priority in planning and arranging the Fair each year—especially during a pandemic.
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