At gate six of the Frederick Fairgrounds, where rides are usually set up come September, there are a few food stands to give locals a taste of the fair using a drive-in setting.
The Great Frederick Fair was canceled this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. Many other counties and states have been canceling their fairs as well, leaving businesses who rely on these events in a tough situation.
Strates Concessions, which is owned by Nick Strates of Mount Airy, is one of those businesses. Their Greek stand, cinnamon roll cart and funnel cake stand always make an appearance at The Great Frederick Fair, in addition to fairs up and down the East Coast.
Blair Wynn, Strates’ daughter and a manager of the business, said almost all of the events the company was scheduled to work this summer have been canceled. Summer, their busiest time of year, usually filled with carnivals and fairs, has been reduced to almost nothing — just the Delaware State Fair has gone on, and the Georgia National Fair is still scheduled.
“So we’re just trying to figure out something we can do to stay busy, so we’ve been doing these fair food drive-ins,” Wynn said.
The company set up its first drive-in in Mount Airy, which Wynn said was very successful. A lot of people came out to support and get their favorite fair foods. The Greek stand has also been setting up at Saints Peter and Paul Greek Orthodox Church on Seventh Street in Frederick, which they normally do periodically throughout the year.
But it can’t compare to the fairs, which are usually packed with hungry people. Long lines, for days in a row, are a common occurrence.
“We’re trying to figure out where can we go next, what can we put together to do next,” Wynn said. “It’s just been... a complete opposite of what we’re used to. It’s been a big adjustment.”
In addition to Strates’ stands, a few other businesses joined the event. Wynn’s friends from Virginia, who own a carnival, are slinging shaved ice, popcorn, lemonade and more. Another unaffiliated stand with toys, inflatables and flags emblazoned with President Donald Trump’s name is also making an appearance this weekend. The man running the stand declined to comment.
Social distancing and mask wearing are both mandatory at the drive-in. There are also no tables and seats, but customers are welcome to bring their own to tailgate or eat in their cars.
“I really hope this can help people to get out,” Wynn said. “Obviously we’re doing whatever we can do for ourselves, but we want to give something to people to get them out of their house … and do something different.”