With 2020's social distancing summer in full effect due to the continued spread of the coronavirus, the Alameda County Fairgrounds has pivoted from hosting its usual fair activities to holding special events that provide residents with safer entertainment amid the pandemic.
After making the decision to cancel the annual Alameda County Fair because of COVID-19, fairgrounds officials have offered drive-in concerts, brought back drive-in movies and created a space for food trucks where visitors can still get a taste of their favorite fair foods.
"Until we get a vaccine, there's not going to be a sense of old normalcy. If this is what we have to do, I think it's great. I think they are very smart to do it because more people will catch on and sure you're going to get less volume of people, but it's better than nothing at all," said Ron Halsne, who saw a drive-in concert with his wife at the fairgrounds last Friday.
"We're very excited and it's great to just be outside of the house," Halsne said, laughing.
"We missed (the fair) this year. It was a bit of a let down, but I figure if we have to miss it one year to get through this together..." he added, with a shrug.
Drive-in concerts and movies operate in similar style, with patrons purchasing tickets and parking their vehicles in front of the show -- all while maintaining responsible social-distancing space between each vehicle. Visitors are welcome to bring their own food and drink, but masks are mandatory when attendees leave their vehicles.
"People are very respectful of each other's space and keeping masks on when they walk around. And they have people walking around making sure everyone is wearing a mask (when walking around). We're definitely comfortable," Diane Kemsley said. "They could do this all the time and have the fair. It's great. If they did it every time and the fair, I think they'd be killing it."
Food trucks are located in a parking lot next to the drive-in theater, and are scheduled to be open on Friday and Saturday evenings through Aug. 1 (except for the Fourth of July) from 5-9 p.m. Attendees will be charged a parking fee of $10 per vehicle, either in advance or at the gate, with food being sold separately. The food truck lineup and menus are updated online.
The fairgrounds also has 10 more drive-in movies scheduled for weekends over the summer, with the next showing to feature 1993's "The Sandlot" on Thursday and Friday evening.
Showings of "The Sandlot" are sold out already; fairgrounds reps say tickets have been known to sell out in minutes. The drive-in movie series opened June 12 with "Raiders of the Lost Ark," followed by screenings of "The Goonies," "Jurassic Park," "Grease," "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" and "Pitch Perfect."
The movie schedule is updated generally on a week-to-week basis. Residents can purchase tickets for future shows and events online.
For more information about all of the fairgrounds' summer activities, visit alamedacountyfair.com.