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.”