Fairgrounds becomes state's largest drive-thru during State Fair Necessities event

Grace Connatser
Wisconsin State Farmer
A Rick's Pizza employee hands slices of pizza to a customer at the Wisconsin State Fair drive-thru.

Although it took a while to snake through the state fairgrounds in West Allis, that didn't deter nearly 60,000 vehicles from lining up to purchase their favorite fair foods during the State Fair Necessities drive-thru event in the past month.

The Wisconsin State Fair officials tallied up 58,456 vehicles that passed through the gates as their last weekend wrapped up Sunday.

Four weekends of "deep-fried bliss" were hosted on the Milwaukee Mile speedway and throughout the state fairgrounds as vendors set up shop to provide fair favorites in lieu of the actual state fair. Twenty-seven unique vendors made an appearance, including a "Fair Wear" shop selling official Wisconsin State Fair merchandise, and the iconic Cream Puffs booth, which sold 202,000 cream puffs and 16,000 Blue Ribbon brownies.

Rick's Pizza sold 10,000 slices of their famous dill pickle pizza, while fairgoers also bought 18,000 lemonades. The state fair also sold and shipped 1,200 Wisconsin Products Pavilion Boxes, filled with treats like chocolates, popcorn and apples from vendors usually found inside the Products Pavilion building, to 44 states.

Cars wait in line at the Wisconsin State Fair drive-thru event.

State fair staff also said more than 6,200 people watched this year's Agriculture Demonstrations Series videos, where regular livestock exhibitors went virtual. There were also 154 century and sesquicentennial family farms honored for their dedication to agriculture in the past 100-150 years.

The state fair also hosted several other virtual and socially-distanced events, like the Sporkies food awards, the Virtual Cream Puff 5K and a food drive to benefit the Hunger Task Force. They also honored the agriculture industry with daily flower features, youth livestock awards and agricultural spotlight videos showcasing fair exhibitors.

"We are so proud to have created State Fair Necessities to give our loyal fairgoers a little piece of what we are so proud to showcase at the State Fair each year," said Wisconsin State Fair Park CEO Kathleen O’Leary. "Our success is attributed to the staff's innovative thinking and ability to shift focus, as well as the thousands of people who created and shared with us on social media their 'State Fair at Home.'"

The 2021 Wisconsin State Fair is scheduled to take place Aug. 5-15 next year.