02/07/11 — Pickle festival lineup released

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Pickle festival lineup released

By Steve Herring
Published in News on February 7, 2011 1:46 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- The North Carolina Pickle Festival will celebrate its 25th anniversary in April with a mix of traditional favorites -- like the Friday night Band of Oz concert and children's carnival rides -- and new events -- a mother-daughter high tea and the Pickle Plaster Plunge.

But perhaps the two most visible changes will be a later festival weekend on April 29-30 because of Easter and changes in how visitors will be allowed to park.

The Pickle Festival Committee held its first full meeting Thursday night at Mount Olive College -- a kind of review of what is in place already and new things as well, festival chairman Julie Beck said.

"We have so many people coming now and there is just nowhere to park," she said. "Of course we have been doing the shuttle, and we will do it again. We strongly encourage people to come and park at the college and take the shuttle.

"It is completely free and that shuttle is running every 15 minutes. One thing we do know that is going to have to change this year is that on the side streets like Chestnut and John streets and others -- you are only going to be able to park cars on one side of the street."

The police department is going to put barriers on one side and officers are going to put signs warning people that their vehicles will be towed at their own expense if they park in a no-parking area.

"We know we are going to get some flak for it, but we also know that we need to keep our community safe," Ms. Beck said. "If there was an emergency, we need to be able to get fire trucks and rescue trucks down the streets, and the way it was last year, there is no way it could have happened."

Ms. Beck said that extra events are being planned for the week prior to the festival including a drive-in movie on Tuesday, April 26, probably about 8 p.m. at the college's Kornegay Arena parking lot. The movie has not yet been selected.

Held for the first time last year, the drive-in attracted about 300 people.

The cost will be $6 in advance and $8 at the gate -- the same as last year.

"I think Andy's is going to come and sell cheeseburgers and whatnots again and hot dogs. That was very popular last year," Ms. Beck said. "They had more people come than they expected. I think they wanted to come eat dinner."

Wayne and Duplin county schools will be closed the week prior to the festival -- the districts' annual Easter breaks.

"That is good," Ms. Beck said. "Even though (the drive-in) is in the middle of the week, parents can still bring their kids out because there is no school the next day. Another event that was just confirmed (Friday) is a mother-daughter high tea."

The tea probably will be held at the old train depot.

"Of course we will have it at high noon with little cucumber sandwiches," she said. "So it probably will be around noonish or early afternoon. We do not have a date, but it will be the week of the festival sometime prior to the festival."

While billed as a mother-daughter tea, it could be a neighbor or grandmothers, Ms. Beck said.

Organizers are hopeful that they will be successful in engaging local merchants to be involved.

"We would really like for our local businesses to do something for the whole month of April," she said. "We have talked to Jonathan Bond here at Andy's, we don't know if he is going to do it, but we were thinking about some kind of green custard. It wouldn't have to be pickle-flavored, just some kind of green custard for the whole month of April. We would love to have Heroes to have fried pickles for the month of April.

"We would love to have all the pizza places have pickle pizza for all the month of April -- just to kind of promote the Pickle Festival because it is our 25th. So we would like our local merchants to jump on the bandwagon. It is a win-win for them. They get people into their stores and businesses and spend money and all and it helps us promote our event. We wouldn't do this every year, but with it being our 25th, we want to do some things really special."

The first festival event will be the annual golf tourney sponsored by the Chamber and Rotary Club on April 15.

The festival's weekend events will get under way Friday night, April 29 with the Band of Oz concert at the Mount Olive Airport. New this year could be a fireworks display.

The Band of Oz would start at 8 p.m. and play until 9 p.m. Then from 9 to 9:30 would be a fireworks display and then the Band of Oz would crank back up at 9:30 p.m. and go to 11:30 p.m.

Admission would be $15 per person ages 13 and up and $5 for ages 5-12. Children 5 and under would be admitted free.

Food is usually sold by the Friendly Mart and the Jaycees will once again have a beer garden, Ms. Beck said. Also, for the past two years, the Country Squire has sold wine.

"I am sure they will be contacting us about that again," she said. "Downtown Friday night will be the pay one price carnival rides -- and, this was confirmed (Thursday), I am calling it Pack a Pickle but that it not what it really is. It is like Build A Bear."

Ms. Beck said a search had failed to find a pickle toy that could be stuffed like a stuffed bear. Instead a variety of animals will be available including a T-shirt printed up with the festival logo and design.

The cost has yet to be decided, she said.

"They will be here Friday night from 5 to 9 at the carnival rides and then all day Saturday of course from 9 to 5 at the Pickle Festival."

"It is a physical activity, you are stuffing the bear," she said. "When you get the bear all done you get a little certificate that you have built this bear, giraffe, monkey or whatever. You put the little T-shirt on it and the kid takes it home and they have a nice souvenir from the Pickle Festival that they have physically done."

And for those who are a little daring, the festival will have a new challenge this year.

"The other new thing is the cornstarch march, which we have to come up with some funny name. (Chamber President) Tyler (Barwick) came up with the Pickle Plaster Plunge. You build a frame two or three feet deep. You fill it full of cornstarch and water and apparently when it gets together it forms a gel.

"Then you run across it and you don't sink. If you stop, you sink. We are going to charge people $1 per person and that money will go to the Eastern North Carolina Food Bank. Of course we are going to put green food coloring in it. Of course it is going to be green."

A location has not been selected, but it could be on the west side of South Center Street where the BMX bike team normally performs.

The carnival rides will be located in the parking lot at the corner of West Main and North Chestnut streets and will operate Friday evening and all day on Saturday.

Three stages for entertainment will be located next to Southern Bank on North Center Street, in the alleyway behind the Chamber office and by First Baptist Church at North Center and West College streets.

The Friends of Steele Memorial Library Book Sale is planned for Saturday in the former Belk building.

There will be the usual variety of arts and crafts and food vendors, camel and pony rides and an area where people can try their hand at packing a jar full of pickles. Bean-bag baseball will be played at the Pope Wellness Center at Mount Olive College.

The children's area will be located on the lawn across North Chestnut Street from the carnival rides.

"We made money last year, that was exciting," Ms. Beck said. "We charge a $3 wristband fee that you can pay one price and come in and do all of the activities. With that wristband you can come throughout the whole day. You can come for two hours leave and then come back and not pay again. That was very popular with the kids. It was very popular with the parents."

The pickle treasure hunt will be held Saturday. People can pick up copies of the clues at the information booth that will be located across from the Chamber office in the 100 block of North Center Street.

Whoever finds the pickles will bring them back to the booth to collect a prize.

The Cuke Patch 5K run will start early that morning at Mount Olive College followed by the Tour de Pickle 75-mile bike ride starting at the Mt. Olive Pickle Co. Distribution Center on the Old Mount Olive Highway so that people can compete in both events.

The Wayne County Cruisers Car Club is expecting more than 200 entries in the popular car show on North Center Street.

The festival shirts and caps have been ordered from Prodigy Activewear in Mount Olive and should be available next week. Prices have yet to be determined.