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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Deep-fried gyros from the drive-thru? Spokane County Interstate Fair’s food gets creative amid pandemic

At the Twister’s Old Fashioned Funnel Cakes food booth, Dawn Moon fries up a funnel cake for a customer waiting in their car during the World’s Largest Fair Food Drive-Thru Thursday at the Spokane County Fair and Expo Center.  (Colin Mulvany/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)
At the Twister’s Old Fashioned Funnel Cakes food booth, Dawn Moon fries up a funnel cake for a customer waiting in their car during the World’s Largest Fair Food Drive-Thru Thursday at the Spokane County Fair and Expo Center. (Colin Mulvany/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)

Nothing beats 200,000 people flooding the Spokane County Interstate Fairgrounds, but deep-fried gyros, gourmet edible cookie dough and cinnamon sugar apple fries from a drive-thru might be a close second.

Since events were canceled to curb the spread of coronavirus, fair organizers found ways to judge animals and pumpkins from afar, but had to get extra creative to sell food, said fair coordinator Jessie McLaughlin. Most of the food vendors hadn’t had any shows this year.

“This is their livelihoods, so it’s been really hard on them and they’re super grateful to be here,” McLaughlin said.

Instead of a full-blown fair, this year’s in-person event is several consecutive days of a fair food drive-thru featuring 14 vendors, billed as the largest of its kind in the world on a sign at the entrance of the loop.

Sarah Bibby and husband Josh have run Bibby Booth, which specializes in sausages, for nine years. Normally by mid-September, they would have sold food at 20 events through the summer.

This year, the Spokane County Interstate Fair’s drive-thru is only their second of the season.

Though it’s not as much business as the regular fair, Bibby said the drive-thru “shattered” all their expectations, with high numbers of customers.

The couple normally works at a steakhouse for six months of the year and exclusively runs Bibby Booth the rest of the time. This year, Bibby said they were lucky their steakhouse could employ them the whole year.

Destiny Munoz, co-owner of John Dough, a gourmet edible cookie dough vendor, was not so lucky. Her full-time work as a marketer for the Man Shop was paused for three months, she said.

She was also one of many Washingtonians who waited weeks to see unemployment checks come in, but she was able to use her part-time dessert business to make some money, running deliveries once per week.

Munoz said winning best dessert as one of the fair’s annual food awards in only her first year vending at the fair was a testament to the fact that it’s worth it to dive into dreams.

She said she started her business with business partner and Man Shop owner Michael Howe. Munoz saw a food truck in Seattle selling edible cookie dough and asked herself why Spokane didn’t have a similar business, she said.

The two brainstormed, and Munoz put her graphic design skills to use in designing the John Dough logo.

“Dream big,” Munoz said. “Failing is – well, you can’t succeed if you don’t try.”

Azar’s won for best deep-fried food with its deep-fried gyro, while the most creative award went to Southern Roasted Corn on the Cob and Potato for its pulled pork baked potato.

“Every one of them is super, super good, or they would not have gotten the top award,” McLaughlin said.

The drive-thru event will continue Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Spokane County Interstate Fairgrounds.

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