The “world’s best fried pickles with a side sauce of your choice” won’t be found in Mount Olive this year.
You can’t ride the Pickle Train.
Or fill your belly at the Highway 55 burger contest.
For the second year in a row, Center Street will be silent in late April. Organizers have canceled the award-winning NC Pickle Festival as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to plague the country.
“We decided it best to not hold a live, in-person event for 2021, given the continued severity of the pandemic and the slower-than-anticipated vaccinations,” said Lynn Williams, co-chairman of the Pickle Festival.
“The safety of festival-goers, vendors, volunteers and all of those associated with this beloved festival is of paramount importance. A year ago in mid-March, when we completely canceled the 2020 festival, we did not ever imagine that we would have a similar conversation for 2021.”
But here we are.
Williams and Julie Beck, co-chairman of NCPF and president of the Mount Olive Area Chamber of Commerce, met with town officials last December.
The group agreed to plan a scaled-down, in-person festival that adhered to COVID-19 protocol – particularly social distancing.
Then, a spike in lab-confirmed cases occurred during the holiday season.
“Once we got past the holidays, we did not feel comfortable that if we planned the festival we would be able to have it in April,” Beck said. “We know we will eventually return, hopefully in 2022. But that is just not where we are now.”
Certain elements of the festival will be online, though.
Scheduled events include an online pickle-eating contest, online recipe contest and the Cuke Patch 5K.
A drive-in movie is also planned to be held locally.
These activities are slated to happen somewhere around April 23-24.
“The virtual events will allow us to engage with pickle fans all over the country, so it gives us a chance to broaden the festival’s reach,” Beck said. “We are just beginning to work out the details, so we are asking everyone to follow us on our social media accounts, and to visit our new website when it debuts Feb. 1 at www.ncpicklefest.org.”