Miami Valley festivals plan drive thru events amid pandemic

Miami Valley festivals plan drive thru events amid pandemic

DAYTON — A weekend that is ordinarily one of the busiest for festivals in the Miami Valley will look a lot different in 2020.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Italian Fall Festa in Kettering has elected to go to a drive thru set up to serve visitors food. The cash-only event will have ATM’s on site, but will take drivers through a drive thru, past musical performers, and allow visitors to place an order and pick up food without ever getting out of the car.

“We can get several hundred vehicles through here at one time so we can handle a big line, don’t worry about being delayed or held up, it’s all going to move very quickly,” said Fall Festa chairman Brian Andzik.

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This is the second time in three years the event has used a drive thru. In 2018, heavy rains muddied much of the property and turned the event largely into a drive thru.

“I think we might be the festival that invented the drive thru of sorts,” Andzik quipped. “We used it as a template for this year.”

Another drive thru is in the works at the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in Dayton, where the annual Dayton Greek Festival will take place this weekend.

Here, visitors must order in advance. While on site in their vehicle, visitors can scan a QR code to pull up a video of the dancers that typically perform at the festival.

Co-chair Linda Kadidis said with this event being the church’s biggest fundraiser of the year, and also such a beloved event in the Miami Valley, it was important to still find a way to put this festival on in some capacity.

“We still want to be able to share our culture and food with our community,” Kadidis said. “We have a really great support from our community, so we wanted to be able to continue to do something.”

It’s a similar sentiment at the Italian Fall Festa.

“We think people need a little something to sort of keep their spirits up a little bit,” Andzik said. “So that’s why we’ve decorated, we have the band playing, we tried to make it feel a little festive even though it’s just a drive thru.”

Information on the Italian Fall Festa can be found here.

Information on the Dayton Greek Fest can be found here.