JEFFERSON — The Ashtabula County Fair isn’t happening due to COVID-19, but the food is, at least some of it.
The first-ever Fair Food Drive-Thru began this past weekend at noon — and there were lines of vehicles at the fairgrounds.
Erin Cotterman, owner of Cotterman’s County Fair Waffles in Montville, called the turnout “great,” and said she appreciated everyone’s business during the busy weekend.
“We are excited the Fair Board let us do this,” she said.
The special event will return from noon to 7 p.m. Aug. 8-9 and Aug. 22-23 along the midway. Participants must enter the east gate and exit the west gate.
Corndogs, cotton candy, candy apples, lemonade, funnel cakes, gyros, tacos and more are available during the drive-thru food fair. People are instructed to stay in their cars, and no public restrooms are open.
Andy Frye, of Andover, was in town so he stopped by the fairgrounds to get a cold lemonade and corn dog, he said.
“Nothing like fair food,” he said with a grin.
Pierpont resident Josh Woodward purchased a waffle and lemonade on Saturday, and planned to go back Sunday for more goodies.
“I’m glad our health department gave the OK,” he said. “Other county’s have been doing it all summer.”
To order food, customers line up their cars on the east end of the fairgrounds, given a map and menu and directed through the midway. Employees take orders and collect payments.
Skylar Gibson ran back and forth between the cars and the lemonade stand.
“I understand the popularity of lemonade,” she said. “Every time I go to the fair, I get one.”
All employees practice safety guidelines set by the Ashtabula County Health Department. Vendors and employees wear masks and gloves, sanitize surfaces frequently and properly package food.
“We invited some of our favorite fair food vendors to partner with us and give our community three weekends of fair food,” said Brian Edelman, president of the Ashtabula County Fair Board.
Stephen Lisko, of Premium Shows of America, said the busy midway was a testament to how much people love the Ashtabula County Fair.
Lisko Amusements, founded by Stephen Lisko’s grandfather, normally provides the carnival rides and games for the fair. This year, they’re doing their best to stay afloat amid the pandemic.
“We have some trailers set up down in Youngstown, too,” he said. “We’re just trying to make it through this year.”
This year’s senior fair events, entertainment, grandstand shows, contests and exhibits were canceled because of COVID-19, but fair board members wanted to allow 4-H’ers and Future Farmers of America the opportunity to show their projects.
The fair will consist of only animal shows and the market animal sale, slated for Aug. 13-15.
There also will be harness racing, but the public will not be allowed into the fairgrounds for any of shows, only the sale on Aug. 15, which will be in the grandstand with social distancing guidelines in place.
The fair secretary’s office under the grandstand is open 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesdays and 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Thursdays for the purchase of membership tickets and camping permits.