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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Food favorites from the fair will be available at drive-thrus

Pizza Rita owner Brian Dickmann, right, and employee Gabriel Meek prepare dough and toppings for the day’s pizzas Monday at the store at 502 W. Indiana Ave. in North Spokane. Pizza Rita will join other restaurants for the fair food drive-through event, which will take place in Spokane and Coeur d’Alene even though the Spokane Interstate Fair and the North Idaho Fair are canceled due to COVID-19.  (Jesse Tinsley/The Spokesman-Review)
Pizza Rita owner Brian Dickmann, right, and employee Gabriel Meek prepare dough and toppings for the day’s pizzas Monday at the store at 502 W. Indiana Ave. in North Spokane. Pizza Rita will join other restaurants for the fair food drive-through event, which will take place in Spokane and Coeur d’Alene even though the Spokane Interstate Fair and the North Idaho Fair are canceled due to COVID-19. (Jesse Tinsley/The Spokesman-Review)

Though fair attendees won’t be able to follow the smells of kettle corn and funnel cakes to their favorite food booths as they would at a typical fair, they will be able order their favorites from their cars at both the North Idaho and Spokane Interstate fairs over the next several weeks.

The North Idaho State Fair just finished the first of two weekend drive-thru events Sunday and will hold another this Friday through Sunday.

The Spokane County Interstate Fair drive thru will take place the weekends of Sept. 11 and Sept. 18 at the fairgrounds.

Inland Northwest residents will be able to buy the food they’re used to seeing at fairs and festivals such as Greek food, sausage, fries and noodles, as well event staples such as pizza and barbecue.

Josh and Sarah Bibby, owners of the Bibby Booth, normally spend their summers selling Italian sausage purchased from Sonnenberg’s Market & Deli. This year the fair will be their only event.

“It’s the one time this year where they’ll be able to get the best sausage in town,” he said.

The couple normally sells food at both the North Idaho State Fair and the Spokane County Interstate Fair, but will only be in Spokane due to the limited number of people able to participate in each venue.

Food options will include both event-based businesses that are completely dependent on fairs and festivals, and brick and mortar restaurants like Pizza Rita, Longhorn Barbecue and Mary Lou’s Ice Cream.

Brian Dickmann, owner of Pizza Rita, said three of the four Pizza Ritas in Spokane have been able to continue with some normalcy, but events are about 20% of his business.

During a typical spring and summer, Pizza Rita has a presence at the Fair, Bloomsday, Hoopfest, and the Lilac Parade. He said with so many events being canceled, he knows many will likely be tempted to try food they can only get at a fair instead of pizza, but there’s normally one person in a family that no matter what is on the menu they’ll likely still want pizza.

“If there’s any kids in the car, and you say what do you want? They’ll say pizza,” he said. “People like pizza all the time. Sometimes adults will get something because it’s different, but down deep, they know they want pizza.”

People will have around 14 options at the Spokane County Interstate Fair Drive-thru and there will be 10 options at the North Idaho State Fair.

While vendors will still be serving their most popular items, some foods they’ve served in the past may not be on the menu.

Joey Azar, owner of Azar’s Gyro Station & Deep Fried Haven, will be at both fairs. His offerings at the North Idaho fair will focus on fried food and his Spokane presence will focus on his Greek menu options. Some foods that have been on the menu in the past, such as deep fried cookie dough, he removed because other food vendors were also offering cookie dough options and he didn’t want to take away customers.

“I want all the vendors to have a successful event because of the circumstances we’re in,” he said. “It’s more of a group effort than trying for your individual success.”

He said other unique items that he’s served at past events, such as a cotton candy burrito, also won’t be available due to the challenges of eating them while in a vehicle.

Destiny Muñoz, co-owner of edible cookie dough company John Dough, will also be at both fairs. Muñoz said the company started strong when it debuted at Hoopfest last year, but this summer has been a challenge with most of their appearances canceled and she’s hoping that the fairs will be chance for more people to try different ways of eating cookie dough.

“It’s great of them to offer this, this is the only way we can do any kind of event,” she said.

She said their booth will serve cookie dough by making frozen cookie dough bowls that have ice cream in them.

Spokane County Fair Coordinator Jessie McLaughlin said the menu for the event will be posted on the fair’s Facebook page later this week.

“Most of these vendors have not had any shows this year,” she said, “so this is what we can do to try to give back to them as well.”

She said people will be able to enter the fairgrounds and drive through the event from the entrance on Havana Street and they’ll need to stay in their car while driving through.

In addition to food vendors, there will also be a nonprofit at every event and attendees will be able to drop off donations while driving through as well. A schedule of nonprofit appearances will also be posted to the county’s website.

A full list of vendors can be found on Spokane County’s website at https://thespokanefair.com/worlds-largest-fair-food-drive-thru/.

A menu and list of vendors for the North Idaho State Fair can be found at https://www.nisfair.fun/p/about/fair-food- fix.

The North Idaho Food Fair will be open 4-8 p.m. Friday, August 28; 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday; and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.

The Spokane County Interstate Fair’s drive-thru will be open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 11; from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 12; and from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday Sept. 13. It will also be open the weekend of Sept. 18 at the same times.

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