May 10—Forget the drive-through, it's now a "grab and go" for the First Congregational Church's annual strawberry festival slated for June 10.
The Terre Haute Board of Public Works and Safety Monday approved no general parking along Ohio Street, from 6th Street to the church, for the festival. The board last month tabled a vote on the festival over concerns of routing traffic into and out of a parking lot at the corner of Sixth and Ohio streets.
The parking area will allow people to quickly pick up "The Works" at a reduce price of $5. The Works — which includes biscuit, strawberries, ice cream and topping — is the only selection being offered this year.
"A drive through was just going to be a lot of moving parts that we weren't comfortable with once we started looking at the nitty gritty of it, so we changed the format to what we are calling a grab and go," Gwen Hicks, a member of the Strawberry Fest Committee, said Monday.
"We will be set up in the parking lot as in the past, but no serving lines," Hicks said. "You can walk up and grab and go, whether you want two, three or six or seven (servings). That will be available in the parking lot," for people to walk up, she said.
Additionally, people can briefly stop in front of the church in the no parking area to have someone hop out and get the food, Hicks said.
"You can drop someone off to go up and get it, or park for a few minutes to go get what you want. It is literally a grab and go," Hicks said.
There will also be very limited dining seating, Hicks said.
"We have a couple of large groups that come in, but it will be very limited seating," Hicks said. "We will have a couple of tents set up for that, but it will not be seating like before (the COVID-19 pandemic) where you would order and then sit down. This will be pick up and go to the park, or go home or sit with friends at the office or save if for dessert at dinner."
Hicks said the event is largely staged by volunteers at the church. For protection of those volunteers, the grab-and-go format was chosen.
"We have so many volunteers that help make this happen that we want to limit their exposure until we have herd immunity. We didn't want to put our volunteers in any kind of risk," Hicks said.
The festival, held downtown since 1989, will be from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on June 10.
"We are still doing our large call-ahead orders," Hicks said. "We have a lot of businesses and companies that call and get them for the whole staff, so that format will be as it always has been, as you call ahead with the large order and pick it up on the east side of the church."
The church in 2020 held the festival virtually amid the pandemic.
Hicks said the festival had more than 8,000 in-person servings in 2019 in the parking lot and more than 1,000 call-ahead carry out servings. "It was almost 8,000 pounds of strawberries and 7,000 biscuits, so it is a lot of production," Hicks said.
"We are hoping people are wanting to get out and COVID-19 is waning some, we hope. Strawberries kick off the summer for a lot of people. Grab it and go and enjoy," Hicks said.
Reporter Howard Greninger can be reached 812-231-4204 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter@TribStarHoward.