Indiana State Fair food vendors return with goal to minimize the spread of COVID-19

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INDIANAPOLIS — After being cancelled last year due to the pandemic, the Indiana State Fair is back in full swing. However, fairgoers will notice new safety precautions across the fairgrounds.

“Items that we had that were self serve last year — we’re not offering that,” said Kristi Canter, a supervisor and food vendor at this year’s fair. “We hand them their condiments, napkins, straws and things like that.”

Buffet-style toppings are also a thing of the past, Canter said those garnishes are now done behind the food stand to reduce high touch points.

“Sometimes [people] look a little puzzled as to why they can’t do that,” Canter said. “But we just say ‘it’s COVID. We have to keep everybody safe,’ and then they’re like ‘Oh, okay!'”

At her specific stand, Canter said they are no longer offering refills due to the risk of community spread through a visitor’s reusable cup. She said it’s a common change among some vendors, but they hope to find a way to offer refills in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, across the Midway at other food stands, team member Caleb Reed said his vendors have found a way to minimize that risk.

“We have paper cups inside the stands. So we’ll do the refill inside and then pass it out to the customer and they’ll pour it into the cup,” said Reed.

Reed said sip cups are also being phased in for all their drinks to avoid touching straws altogether. Most vendors are now also offering contactless payment options.

“[More fans are] using the contactless tap,” said Reed. “So you can use Apple Pay on your phone or sometimes just the debit card itself.”

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