Rosendale International Pickle Festival, known by locals as Pickle Fest, is a non-profit event that has raised over $150,000 for the Rosendale community and has been around for 25 years.
Founded in 1997 and held at the Rosendale Recreation Center, there are over 100 vendors that come from all over the state to sell pickles, cultural foods, baked goods, clothing and jewelry such as including homemade shirts, sweaters necklaces, earrings and rings.
This is the International Pickle Festival’s first year back since the pandemic. There was still a huge turnout for the event, despite a two year break and a date change. While this year’s festival was held on Oct. 16, it was previously held the weekend before Thanksgiving. It was $5 per person to enter with children under 12 getting in for free. There are multiple different competitions including a home pickling contest, a professional pickling contest and a pickle triathlon.
The pickle triathlon includes a pickle eating contest, pickle juice drinking and a game of pickle toss. One of the contributing sponsors of Pickle Fest, Mt. Olive Pickles from North Carolina, supplies all the pickles for the competitions and prizes.
The founders of Pickle Fest, Bill and Cathy Brooks told The Oracle, “[We] had a friend that lived in Japan. She would come over here on occasion. She really liked the area and was bringing over dignitaries from Japan and asked if we’d help put a party together for them.”
“I guess we got a little panicky and wanted to make a good show. We put flyers all over the place and it was only flyers we put out,” added Mr. Brooks. “We were hoping to get a good group together to welcome them and everything. 900 people showed up at the rec center.”
When Mr. and Mrs. Brooks asked their friend what food they would like, she gave him one word: “pickles.” After the first party had such a high success rate, Pickle Fest was launched.
The event hosts thousands of individuals, ranging between 4,000-5,000 people in attendance every year. There were shuttles in five different locations to transport people to the Rosendale Recreation Center for the event.
There are three different tents that take up over 12,000 square feet of space. The first two tents exhibit at home canners, craftsmanship and smaller pickling companies. The last tent is where professional pickle companies go to exhibit their pickled products. Another portion of the festival grounds has food trucks including Zachary’s Deep Fried Pickles, Vinny’s Pickle Pizza and many others.
The first-place winners of the pickled vegetables event own and operate Perry’s Pickles. Kathleen and Chris Perry have been in the business of naturally canning fruits and vegetables for 12 years. Mrs. Perry said that Pickle Fest is “pickle bliss” because of the positive energy that is brought to the festival. “Most people say ‘oh, my mouth is watering,’” she said, describing people’s initial reactions to the pickle vendor tent.
Pickle Fest is an event that brings together pickle lovers to showcase and sample different types of pickled goods. Frank Cardella, the owner and operator of Frank’s Pickles in New Paltz, has been in business for two years. He said Pickle Fest is like “the Super Bowl” for people that have pickling businesses.
“I am very happy to be here. I am ecstatic. It’s the first time I’m here as a vendor, I came here many times as a patron and now we have the ability to service these amazing people today. This has been an amazing experience. It has been a very fun day,” Cardella said as he explained his experience.
Local festivals like this promote recognition for companies to exhibit their craft and allow the public to indulge in it. Owner and artist Rich Simons of Stone Street Tie Dye, in Walpole, Massachusetts has been in business for 19 years. Simons has been creating shirts for Pickle Fest for the past two years. He won first place for craftsmanship of his notable pickle shirt. “It is just fun. It’s an energy to it. It’s a fun event,” said Simons. “Everybody likes pickles.”