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Hillsdale County Fair drive-thru keeps tra­di­tions alive with fair food amid COVID-19 pan­demic. Kalli Dal­rymple | Col­legian

In place of the Hillsdale County Fair, the Hillsdale County Fair Board held a food drive-thru on Oct. 1 – 3, allowing res­i­dents to enjoy all their car­nival favorites from the comfort of their car. 

The drive-thru fea­tured Donut Hut, Beach Con­ces­sions, Maria’s, Friske Fries, Smith Con­ces­sions, Almond King, Mary Lou’s, and Red Barn Ele­phant Ears. 

Cars could drive through the fair­ground and either choose to begin with the Donut Hut or Maria’s. If cars chose to get donuts from the Hut, they could then circle around to get other car­nival food items. 

Vendors served an array of food, including caramel apples,  popcorn, tacos, and smoothies. 

Hillsdale College Fair Manager Lori Hull said the drive-thru was a must for the people of Hillsdale since the car­nival was can­celed to the COVID-19  pan­demic. 

“It was a very crippled version of what fair week would look like,” Hull said. “A lot of fairs have done them as an oppor­tunity to provide vendors with a chance to make a little money that they don’t tra­di­tionally make.”

To make the event more like the fair, there were cars on display from local car deal­er­ships. 

In addition to the food drive-thru, the Hillsdale County Fair also held drive-in con­certs. The concert on Oct. 3 fea­tured 10 Talents and Sanctus Real. It was $25 per vehicle and began at 7 p.m.

Concert-goers were encouraged to go through the drive-thru ahead of time because they did not have access to food once in the concert venue, and were asked to stay in or around their car. There was an FM option to listen to the concert on the radio if concert-goers so chose to. 

In total from the three weekends of the fair food drive-thru, more than 3,000 cars attended. 

“I was really excited that I was still able to get donuts from the Donut Hut even though the fair was can­celed,” said junior Renee Bielawa. “They were very good and I want more.”

Former fair board member and founder of the Donut Hut Walt Zinser was impressed with the success of the drive-thru. 

“It was very suc­cessful. People miss the Hillsdale County Fair, and everyone likes a little bit of fair food,” Zinser said. “It gave me a chance to visit with the vendors I knew. People loved it, espe­cially getting the donuts.” 

The fair, Zinser said, has always been a can’t‑miss event, attracting people from all over the country. He was thankful an event was still able to be held in place.

“It gave the fair oppor­tunity to make a little money because they still have bills they have to pay. Board members had to mow the lawn this year to cut costs. The fair drive-thru goes a long way to help, espe­cially because vendors have had a hard time this year,” Zinser said. “They are usually at a fair a week. The drive-thru gave them a chance to get a little income.”