CHESANING — For a second consecutive weekend, the Saginaw County Fairgrounds will host a drive-thru “Taste of the Fair,” offering popular carnival foods — ranging from deep fried Oreos to Italian sausage — for sale.
Vendors making the sought-after fair foods will set up shop Saturday and Sunday at the fairgrounds, 11350 Peet Road. Food will be served from noon to 8 p.m. each day, though fairground gates will close at 5 p.m. to new visitors.
Cars must enter the fairgrounds in a single-file line as vendor employees take down orders and bring them to each vehicle — cash only. No parking or walk-up orders will be permitted, and no restrooms will be available.
All vendors will be operating in accordance with current CDC guidelines, including wearing masks and gloves.
Saginaw County Fairgrounds Executive Director Rachael Wirostek said the idea was sparked by a similar event hosted by the Ionia Free Fair May 9-10. After discussing the logistics of the event with the Ionia fair staff, Saginaw County Fair organizers began reaching out to vendors, Anderson Midways among them, to make the drive-thru at the fairgrounds a reality.
Anderson Midways provided four food wagons for the opening weekend, May 24-25, and agreed to donate a portion of the proceeds back to the Saginaw County Fair, according to Wirostek.
“There was a long line both days (last weekend). We were pleasantly surprised,” Wirostek said, noting Anderson Midways’ four food wagons drew approximately 350 customers on day one. “Everybody was happy, they were excited. It was super, super fun and (I think) they all appreciate the struggles that the industry is going through.”
In addition to supporting Anderson Midways and the Saginaw County Fair, visitors also contributed nearly $2,000 to the Midland County Emergency Food Pantry Network in an effort to help those recovering from the devastation of recent flooding.
“It was unbelievable,” Wirostek said. “The first day was a little over $1,000 and we couldn’t even believe it. People gave so generously and they were happy to do it. The good will was just phenomenal.”
This weekend’s “Taste of the Fair” menu will include offerings from Sweep Pop (kettle corn), Genovese’s (mini doughnuts and hot buttered pretzels), Sutton Concessions (Italian sausage and butterfly chips) and Maria’s Taco’s.
An additional vendor, Mr. Pit Master BBQ, will be serving on Sunday only, Wirostek said.
Donations will also be collected for the Saginaw Community Foundation, she added, to support the nonprofit’s efforts in providing flood assistance and COVID-19 relief to struggling businesses.
Wirostek said the event not only provides relief to those in the fair industry and greater Saginaw community, but also serves as a way to keep the Saginaw County Fair, which, as of now, is still scheduled for Aug. 4-8, in people’s minds.
“We wanted to let them know that we care for our community, we care for our fair, for our exhibitors, our vendors, our guests that come to enjoy the fair,” Wirostek said. “Everybody’s got struggles and everybody’s got a lot to think about ... The decisions that boards and fairs are making are very, very difficult.”
The Saginaw County Fair Board is still “weighing all the options” with respect to holding this year’s fair, Wirostek said, noting board members are exploring all possible avenues to ensure safety of visitors.
The board is expected to meet relatively soon to make a decision, she added. For more information about the Saginaw County Fair and this weekend’s “Taste of the Fair” event, visit facebook.com/SaginawCoFair.