Festival to pack people in like pickles in Mount Olive
By Kelly Corbett
Published in News on April 25, 2012 1:46 PM
Get ready to sport some green and show some pickilicious pride because the 26th annual North Carolina Pickle Festival is almost here.
The Pickle Princess Pageant, Pickle Picture Show and Pickle Me Pink Tea Party have all come and gone. But the weekend festival activities will kick off Friday night and will last until the praise and worship service at 6 p.m. Sunday at Mount Olive First Pentecostal Holiness Church.
The main day of the festival, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, is expected to bring about 40,000 visitors to downtown Mount Olive as it has over the past few years. The festival will again feature several new activities in addition to the many traditions it has passed down from the previous 25 years of the festival.
Festival organizers said they can still use helping hands if anyone would like to volunteer.
For any additional information or a schedule of events, visit the festival website, ncpicklefest.org.
FRIENDS OF THE STEELE MEMORIAL LIBRARY BOOK SALE
The book sale will start a day early this year, from 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday, for members of the organization. The public can get involved in the members-only sale by joining for just $5 a year. Books are already stacked up high on the tables in the old Belk building -- the soon-to-be new home for the library -- off of West Main Street. The book sale will continue from noon to 8 p.m. Friday and from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. No book is more than $2, but some of the best deals can be found during the "bag sale" the last couple of hours of the sale.
FRIDAY NIGHT ACTIVITIES
Festival activities will kick off the evening before the main day of the festival, with carnival rides beginning at 5 p.m. and lasting until 9 p.m. downtown. For $10, children can ride unlimited rides.
The popular beach music group, the Band of Oz, will once again take the stage at the concert Friday night at the Mount Olive Municipal Airport. Concert tickets are $15 for ages 13 and older, $5 for children ages 6 to 12 and free for children younger than 5. People can play cornhole games for $5 and also purchase a variety of snacks and drinks.
All day Friday the Mount Olive Area Chamber of Commerce will be selling festival merchandise.
CUKE PATCH 5K AND TOUR DE PICKLE
Registration for both the race and bike rides will remain open until Saturday morning. The Cuke Patch 5K race will begin at 8 a.m. Registration is $20 and will be held from 7 to 7:45 a.m. There will be four different age division winners, both male and female, in addition to an overall male and female winner who will win a jar of pickles and T-shirt.
Registration for the Tour de Pickle is $30 and will be held from 8 to 8:30 a.m. Saturday, at the Mt. Olive Pickle Co. distribution center, located at 1301 N. Center St.
The three routes -- 25, 50 and 75 miles -- are marked by color and will lead cyclists through Wayne, Duplin and Sampson counties.
The length of the ride determines the start time, with the 75-mile ride beginning at 9 a.m. and the two others following every five and 10 minutes.
PARKING AND SHUTTLE
Parking for the festival will again be allowed only on one side of the street, designated by signs placed around town. Anyone who parks in the prohibited areas will be towed at the owner's expense. Several local organizations and churches also are expected to again use parking lots in the surrounding areas to raise money by charging about $5 for all-day parking.
Two shuttles will be running throughout the day, from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., from the Kornegay Arena parking lot at Mount Olive College to the drop-off point at the Mount Olive Fire Department for additional parking. The shuttles will pick-up and drop-off visitors about every 15 minutes.
The petting zoo will be back in the children's area at the festival this year. Entrance to the area requires a $3 wristband, but features several activities packed all into one area at the corner of Chestnut and West Main streets. From noon to 2 p.m., children can get their pictures taken with characters, such as Ollie Q. Cumber and Ronald McDonald. Pack-A-Pickle Pal, the Pickle Derby and Pickle Mama's Hula Hoop will all be in the children's area along with face painting, games and crafts. The carnival rides will also be in the same vicinity, across the street.
NEW TICKET BOOTHS
For the first time, certain festival activities will require tickets instead of cash. Festival organizers are trying to cut down on some of the chaos from previous years to keep the festival more organized, and said they are excited to see after the festival how popular the 10 different activities were. There will be two ticket booths, one on Center Street by the Wii games and the other behind the Mount Olive Area Chamber of Commerce by the pony and camel rides. The tickets are $1 each and will read "Value $1 Pickle Purchasing Power." Tickets can be purchased in multiples of five, and there will be a discount given to those who purchase more than four strands or 20 tickets.
The activities and the required number of tickets are:
Camel Rides - 7
Water Wars - 5
Mechanical Bull Rides - 5
Bungee Jump - 5
Rock Climbing Wall - 5
Pony Rides - 5
Photo Booth - 3
Pickle Plaster Plunge - 3
NASCAR - 3
Wii Games - 3
Treasure hunt clues, written by N.C. Pickle Festival Committee Chairwoman Julie Beck herself, can be picked up at the information booth, located in front of the Chamber. The clues lead treasure hunters around the festival with about 16 short riddles. The first person or pair to find the hidden jar of pickles wins a festival T-shirt or hat and a picklePAK.
North Carolina Pickle Festival Car Show organizers do not have to do much to draw out a big crowd for the annual car show, lining both sides of North Center Street. Saturday morning registration is first-come, first served for the car show, sponsored by the Wayne County Cruisers Car Club. About 200 cars are expected to be included in this year's show, an increase from the 180 cars last year. The $20 entry fee will go to cancer patient Valerie King of Princeton to help with medical bills.
BIG A CHALLENGE
Five contestants will take the stage at noon, competing to shovel down a 55-ounce hamburger, an order of fries and a 24-ounce drink in the fastest time during the Big A Challenge, sponsored by Hwy 55 Burgers, Shakes & Fries. The challenge, featuring three local contestants pitted against past winners Canadian "Furious" Pete Czerwinski and "Gentleman" Joe Menchetti of Springfield, will be located at the corner of East Main and North Center streets.
PREDICT THE PICKLE PASS THROUGH
Entries for the new train guessing game, Predict the Pickle Pass Through, can be submitted until Friday at midnight at the Chamber. The person who guesses closest to the time the train passes by the information booth at the festival without going over will receive prizes from CSX, including an engineer cap. Entry forms can be found at the festival website at ncpicklefest.org.
A husband and wife performance team, Dextre Tripp and Jayna Lee of Circus Stella, will take the stage three times during the main day of the festival with their three mixed breed rescue dogs. Pickles may even make an appearance in their 30 to 45-minute performances, located on the corner of East Pollock and Center streets. The shows will be held every two hours, at 10:35 a.m., 12:35 p.m. and 2:35 p.m.
Nearly 30 acts are slated to appear at the Pickle Festival across three stages with musical selections ranging from classic country and gospel to contemporary Christian and smooth jazz. Don't miss the Boys of Carolina Bluegrass Band at 2 p.m. or the U.S. Air Force Rhythm in Blue Jazz Ensemble at 3:30 p.m. Both acts will be on the the Dancers Stage and will provide bluegrass, jazz and swing favorites to end the 26th annual Pickle Festival on a high note.