01/24/18 — Committee gears up for the 32nd annual N.C. Pickle Festival

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Committee gears up for the 32nd annual N.C. Pickle Festival

By Steve Herring
Published in News on January 24, 2018 5:50 AM

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Martha Walker looks at a copy of the logo for the 32nd annual North Carolina Pickle Festival during a Monday night planning session. Walker chairs the volunteer committee for the festival that will be held April 27-29.

MOUNT OLIVE -- The Picasso of parrots.

An expanded chili cookoff.

A new pickle song.

Those are among new and expanded events that will join traditional favorites like the car show, free entertainment and a variety of food and arts and crafts vendors for the 32nd annual North Carolina Pickle Festival to be held April 27-29, in downtown Mount Olive.

And of course no Pickle Festival would be complete without a pickle-eating contest, pickle derby, Pickle Train, pickle-packing competition and free pickle samples.

All of these things were among the items discussed by the N.C. Pickle Festival Committee during a Monday night planning session at the Mt. Olive Pickle Co. boardroom.

The award-winning festival, sponsored by the Mount Olive Area Chamber of Commerce, was most-recently named a Top-20 Event in the Southeast which encompasses several different states, said Julie Beck, Chamber president and Pickle Festival co-chairman.

"The North Carolina Pickle Festival and the Azalea Festival were the only two listed out of North Carolina," she said. "So I am pretty excited about that.

"This is particularly about things in the spring. We will be on their website. This is the first time that we have ever gotten this recognition."

Beck said she would be in Charlotte this weekend for the state festival conference, where they will find out if they won any awards.

For the second year in a row the Friday night free concert will be held downtown on North Center Street from 7 to 10 p.m.

Dance music will be played from 6 to 7 p.m. and from 9 to 10 p.m. The Taz band will perform from 7 to 9 p.m.

It also will be the second year that the Cuke Patch 5K run will be a glow run and held downtown as well from 8 to 9 p.m.

Carnival rides will be set up in the Steele Memorial Library parking lot April 27 and 28. Friday night, festival-goers can buy a $12 wristband and ride as many rides as they want.

The festival moves into high gear Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. with a full day of free entertainment, car show, activities and food and arts and crafts vendors.

The day will start off with the Tour de Pickle bike ride. A praise and worship service will be held Sunday at 6 p.m.

While all things pickle will rule the day, chili will be a close second.

The annual chili cookoff has grown so much in popularity that it will be expanded from one day to two. New categories will be added as well.

"So we will actually have a chili cookoff on Friday night and on Saturday," Beck said.

The one on Friday night will be for homestyle chili and Saturday's cookoff will feature red traditional chili and salsa, said Jamie Grady, chili cookoff chairman.

One of the new attractions this year will be parrot artwork -- that is artwork created by parrots.

"We are going to have some parrots come this year, which is kind of interesting," Beck said. "They actually paint pictures (while) there at the festival.

"Then the group sells the paintings and that is how they make money. That is kind of an interesting twist."

The birds are from the non-profit Cape Fear Parrot Sanctuary that rescues, rehabilitates, and cares for parrots who are unwanted, abused, neglected, or whose owners can no longer care for them.

Also new this year is a pickle song.

"This year we are having our pickle song, music, lyrics competition," Beck said. "(Co-chairman) Lynn (Williams) and I have got to get the logistics figured out. But we have had some words written for a song and some music.

"So what we would like to do is put that out there and people pay an entry fee to be able to sing this song. We will listen to these ahead of time, pick out a winning entry and they will come and perform their entry at the Pickle Festival."

Participants can put whatever kind of beat they want to the song -- bluegrass, country, rock, beach, whatever, she said.

"We also have the pickle polka that we sing at the Pickle Drop," Williams said.

The pickle polka is a good idea because the festival T-shirt this year has a German theme, Beck said.

The helicopter rides at last year's festival on Saturday were so popular that a second helicopter has been added this year.

Applications for the festival are posted on the festival website, www.ncpicklefest.org. Go to the vendor application link, www.ncpicklefest.org/vendors, and mail the completed forms with all necessary payment to Waylin Area Foundation, 123 N. Center St., Mount Olive, NC 28365.