A festival to remember

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The organizing committee promised that the North Carolina Pickle Festival would be the biggest “DILL” ever in its 36-year history.

The award-winning event lived up to its billing.

I have NEVER seen that many people walking through downtown Mount Olive on Saturday.

Let me tell you, it was an experience I certainly won’t forget.

People smiled, laughed, hugged friends and took selfies.

I can’t count how many times folks stopped at the pickle jar mural to get their picture taken. One young man knelt below a jar, opened his arms wide and acted as if he was carrying it on his shoulders.

Festival-goers from Virginia, Hawaii, Utah, New Mexico, South Carolina, Florida, Oklahoma, West Virginia – you name it – took time to grab a marker and sign a door sitting beside the Mount Olive Area Chamber of Commerce booth.

By day’s end, both sides were covered in different-colored ink.

There wasn’t a white space to be found.

The pickle train, sponsored by Mount Olive Parks & Recreation, zoomed around the streets in the kids’ carnival area. A long line of riders waited patiently to climb into those coveted green barrels and feel a nice breeze on a sun-splashed late April day.

Screams of delight filled the air.

The only thing missing was the “toot-toot” of a train horn.

Every band on the main stage and praise stage played great music throughout the day.
Food vendors rarely had a moment’s peace.

You know, I don’t think a moment passed by where I didn’t see someone munching on a pickle.

Shaved ice treats, lemonade and water became the “cool-down” choice when temps rose throughout the day. Folks – including those who brought their four-legged fur babies – started to seek the comfort of shade, which became a premium on both sides of Center Street.

Our Mount Olive Tribune tent stayed busy.

Martha, Sher and Emily (my boss) worked hard all day.

People spun the wheel to win unique prizes. They registered for gift baskets and we even picked up some new subscribers. We learned a few things and made some notes for next year.

What about me, you ask?

Armed with cameras, I hit just about every nook and cranny in a four-block radius to document a fantastic day. Thanks to everyone who granted “short” interviews and picture opportunities.

I didn’t complete my “to-do” list, but I hope you enjoy the story and photos that appear in today’s edition. You can view photos online by clicking the link on our Facebook page.

Kudos to NCPF co-chairs Julie Beck and Lynn Williams, emergency personnel, law enforcement, town officials, volunteers and others who worked tirelessly and efficiently behind the scenes.

What are y’all planning for 2023?

Rudy Coggins is assistant editor of the Mount Olive Tribune. He can be reached at rcoggins@mountolivetribune.com.

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