04/15/12 — N.C. Pickle Festival set for April 28

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N.C. Pickle Festival set for April 28

By Kelly Corbett
Published in News on April 15, 2012 1:50 AM

The North Carolina Pickle Festival, easily Wayne County's most popular annual event, drawing in more than 35,000 people every year to a town with a population just short of 4,600, is making its 26th annual debut later this month.

Held in Mount Olive and inspired in large part by the city's brand-name company, Mt. Olive Pickle Co., the main day of the festival will be April 28. But there are several events preceding it that organizers are hoping people will attend -- the second annual Pickle Me Pink Tea Party on April 22 and the Band of Oz concert on April 27.

Each year, festival organizers begin planning by brainstorming new ideas for the downtown festival to help keep it fresh.

Organizers said they are excited about one new addition in particular this year, a husband and wife performance team called Circus Stella. The duo, Dextre Tripp and Jayna Lee, are accompanied by their performing dogs, multiple mixed breed rescue dogs from various humane societies.

The family circus has performed on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" and "America's Got Talent," and will have a 25- by 25-foot area to perform at the festival.

Chairwoman Julie Beck said organizers are also working to make the festival easier to navigate.

Brochures with festival maps and event times will be located in the shuttle coming from Mount Olive College to the festival, and also other designated spots throughout downtown.

Ten festival activities will utilize new tickets, which read "North Carolina Pickle Festival, Value $1 Pickle Purchasing Power." The new ticket system will make it so festival workers do not have to collect cash during the day, and will also allow organizers to see how popular each attraction is by counting the amount of tickets placed into plastic jugs labeled with each attraction after the festival is over.

"So we're excited about our ticket booths," Ms. Beck said.

The tickets will be available at two booths, one located on South Center Street by the NASCAR simulator and Wii games, and the other will be behind the Mount Olive Area Chamber of Commerce by the pony and camel rides.

Tickets come in strips of $5, but the more tickets purchased, the lower the price. The children's area, though, is an exception to the new tickets and will still require a $3 wristband.

And as far as planning goes, Ms. Beck said, "we're way ahead of the game," though, she admitted, as soon as she says she is not booking anything else, something else pops up.

Added a week ago, the Krispy Kreme Cruiser, a restored 1960 Flxible Starliner, will be stopping by the festival on its way across the nation to celebrate the company's 75th anniversary.

Figuring out where to put attractions is now the hardest part, since festival space is already tight.

Each Thursday up until the festival, organizers are meeting to help iron out all of the details, including finalizing locations for activities and vendors.

One change will be moving the petting zoo back into the children's area this year, located behind the Mount Olive Area Chamber of Commerce.

Festival T-shirts are now available at the Chamber and the Mt. Olive Pickle Co. gift shop, ranging from $12 to $20.

On April 27, festival weekend activities will kick off with $10 unlimited carnival rides downtown from 5 to 9 p.m. Gates will open for the Band of Oz concert at 7 p.m., and the concert will begin at 8 p.m., at the Mount Olive Municipal Airport.

Registration will remain open for the Cuke Patch 5K Race and the Tour de Pickle Bike Ride until the morning of the festival. The race will begin at 8 a.m. in the Kornegay Arena parking lot at Mount Olive College, and the ride will begin at 9 a.m. at the Mt. Olive Pickle Distribution Center.

The festival will be all day Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Two shuttles will run throughout the day from the Kornegay Arena parking lot at the college to the drop-off location at the Mount Olive Fire Department, located at the end of the car show.

Ms. Beck said the festival can still use some additional hands if anyone would like to help out.

"We're working on getting volunteers," she said.

For more information and to view a detailed schedule of events, visit ncpicklefest.org.