SCHMECKFEST DRIVE-THRU RETURNS FRIDAY
The history books will note that there was no Schmeckfest held in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic that took its toll on that festival, along with a host of other spring and summertime activities.
The history books will also note that Schmeckfest and Freeman Academy officials made the best of an unfortunate situation, as is evident in the second Schmeckfest-inspired drive-thru event this Friday, June 26.
From 5 to 7:30 p.m., the public is invited to come to the parking lot on the west side of Sterling Hall and pick up pre-ordered hot meals, as well as prepackaged frozen Schmeckfest sausage and Country Kitchen goods. Orders for the meals — sausage, sauerkraut and cheese pockets with white sauce — were to have been placed by June 23.
Curbside delivery will be at the doors to the Link.
Schmeckfest officials also offered drive-up sales — sans the hot meal — on what would have been the two weekends of Schmeckfest the third and fourth weeks of March.
“We had such a positive result; so many people commented that we’ve got to do it again,” said Meranda Van Ningen, who is the development director at FA and serves on the school’s auxiliary executive board. “It really was a group effort to say, ‘Let’s do it again, but this time let’s give them some hot food.”
Even if food was not pre-ordered, the public is still invited to the drive-thru event to purchase frozen Schmeckfest sausage, kuchen, noodles and peppernuts.
“With COVID,” Van Ningen notes, “sausage is actually cheaper than hamburger.”
As was the case in March, all of the Country Kitchen items that will be sold on Friday were made in advance of Schmeckfest and the coronavirus health crisis, so in that regard, food preparation had already been taken care of. Putting together the hot meal will be coordinated by a small staff working out of Pioneer Hall’s commercial kitchen; the food will be prepped ahead of time and plated as the vehicles pull up to the front doors for pick-up “so it’s hot and ready when it hits their car,” said Van Ningen.
Van Ningen said Schmeckfest officials began thinking about a second drive-thru event immediately following the success of their first in March. They had hoped to organize one earlier, but instead decided to wait and see what was going to happen with the coronavirus.
She noted that all guidelines established by the Centers for Disease Control will be met, from how the food is delivered to the vehicles to the number of volunteers working in the kitchen.
One of the biggest challenges for officials has been setting up the online store through the Schmeckfest website, schmeckfest.com. While meal and musical tickets are always sold online, this was the first time sales have expanded to food items.
“We’re really impressed with the positive response and people’s patience as we’ve navigated this,” she said. “We’re trying to maximize what we are able to do in the midst of COVID and are excited to be able to do this.”