Makeshift drive-thru sells carnival cuisine despite COVID-19

SALISBURY, Mass. — A giant cow and bull catch the eye of motorists on this iconic highway where a traveling amusement company has put down its roots during the pandemic and is offering cotton candy and fried dough.

EJ Dean is the owner of Fiesta Shows, which travels to popular, outdoor activities throughout the summer months. Since COVID-19 shut down many of those events, Dean decided to convert his normal off-season storage on Route 1 into a collection of drive-through carnival food stands, which he’s calling Fair Food Express.

The carnival stands sell familiar tastes of the midway — fried dough, fried Oreos, fried peanut butter cups, sausages, hotdogs, cotton candy and caramel apples, among other summertime treats — seven days a week.

“Right now, based on the COVID-19 shutdown, our primary business has been shut down until sometime in late July or early August,” Dean said. “So, we had excess equipment and employees, and so we put this all together.”

The culinary experience here, as expected, leans toward the sugary. Dean says they prefer to leave salads to the local restaurants.

“The menu certainly isn’t normal fare, and we are certainly not attempting to do that,” he said.

Dean said response has been positive since the drive-thru opened last week, with multiple people returning over multiple days.

“We even have people that came for lunch, and then came back for dessert, all in the same day,” he said. “So we are very happy so far.”

He’s hoping to keep the operation running, and employing 14 people who otherwise would be out of work, until September.

Jim Sullivan writes for The Daily News of Newburyport, Mass. He can be reached via email at jsullivan@newburyportnews.com. Follow him on Twitter @ndnsully.

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