Fair food lovers were originally left wanting by the Orange County Fair and Events Center Board of Directors’ decision to cancel the summer OC Fair in April of 2020. While many aspects of the 23-day long event, such as craft contests, how-to shows and even checking in on the adjoining farm’s piglets, were able to be adapted for virtual consumption, fans of the fair’s iconic foods were initially left wanting. With the introduction of the Fair Food Drive-Thru, food lovers can enjoy their fair favorites Friday and Saturday nights from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m., and Sunday nights from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. throughout the month of September.
There are ten different vendors participating in the weekends-only event. Booths are arranged on a track marked out with traffic cones, with an “order lane” and a “passing lane.” Patrons are able to enter through the Orange County Fairgrounds’ primary gate, located on Del Mar Avenue. From there, guests will be directed onto the track, where they will find everything from Dippin’ Dots and fried cheesecake to turkey legs and roasted corn. Guests are required to remain in their cars at all times, and to wear masks while interacting with drive-thru employees.
“I thought it was going to be less people, but there’s actually more people,” said Briana Bey, a member of the Tasti Chips drive-thru team.
Bey is one of many employees contributing to the preservation of the fair foodie experience, an undertaking that has been well received, according to owners.
“First weekend, we were swamped,” said Cathy Johnson, owner of Cathy’s Cookies, in an email.
Drive-thru fair food has been implemented at several canceled county fairs in Southern California. The San Diego County Fair held its own drive-thru event earlier in the summer, and the idea is currently being considered for the L.A. County Fair.
“I was contacted by the OC Fair folks,” Johnson said. “They told me they were trying to put this together like [the San Diego] fair did.”
Cathy’s Cookies was one of the first four vendors to agree to participate in the drive-thru, and also one of the first to experiment with their menu. While patrons can still find Cathy’s fresh-baked cookies in a variety of portion sizes on the vendor’s menu, the drive-thru is now offering cookie dough as well.
For more information about the OC Fair Food Drive-Thru, and to see the full menus for all ten participants, visit the event page on the OC Fair website.