ROSENDALE, NY – The Rosendale International Pickle Festival returns to Rosendale Recreation Center for the first time since before the COVID-19 pandemic on Sunday, October 16.
When the festival opens at 10 a.m., it will be the first time the event has taken place in October. The festival was traditionally held in November throughout its 25-year history
Festival committee member Victoria Coyne admitted the new date had drawn mixed reviews among the festival’s most loyal fans, but said the change was needed.
“We do it in October because we’re trying to avoid the cold, snow, sleet and rain that we faced in November,” Coyne said. “We had too many incidents in November. “Hope it’s a nice day.”
Coyne said there will be between 90 and 100 vendors with many returning favorites.
“Almost everyone comes back,” she said. “The pickle vendors in particular are returnees.”
Some will sell things not traditionally associated with pickling, she said, pointing to pickled grapes.
She admitted that by moving it to October, the festival will have a lot more competition from other events taking place throughout the Hudson Valley.
Coyne said having a bit of competition might not be so bad, as one of the most common complaints about the festival over the years was that it was just too crowded.
She said that in years past they had over 5,000 people throughout the day, but usually it’s more like 3,000 people. She noted that most come for about an hour or two.
With the new date and a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, she noted that the festival committee had made great efforts to promote the festival.
Festival contests, like the pickle toss contest, will also be making a comeback. She said the contest features three teams, with one team member tossing pickles to another teammate who catches them in their mouth, while a third team member retrieves the pickles from a jar. “They don’t have to chew it, they can add it to the jar,” she said.
The pickle juice contest is also back. “Some people like it, it’s not my thing,” Coyne said.
Both competitions are open to adults and children
Coyne said this year’s festival will feature panels honoring Eri Yamaguchi, from Japan, who died two years ago in October 2020, and who played a key role in founding the festival after a visit to Rosendale.
Yamaguchi was a friend of festival founder Bill Brooks and Coyne recalled that Brooks had promised Yamaguchi that he would throw his party when he returned with friends from Japan.
“They loved pickles, and that’s how Bill got the idea to do Pickle Fest,” Coyne said.
The event grew out of the now defunct Rosendale Chamber of Commerce and serves as a community fundraiser. Previously, funds raised have gone to help the non-profit Rosendale Theatre, Pantry, Youth Center, signage in partnership with the Town of Rosendale and to help replace the floor of the Recreation Center, a- she noted.
During the pandemic, they transferred money raised from a past festival exclusively to the pantry to help families with children who needed to be fed while they attended school online, said Coyne. She added that they had used all the funds.
This year’s festival will also feature some logistical changes to parking, with the festival moving to all off-site parking except disabled parking.
Parking was allowed in grassy areas in the center, but is no longer permitted, she said.
Like the Rosendale Street Festival, shuttle buses will transport visitors from offsite locations. They include the Rondout Civic Center, Brookside School, the site of the former Tilson Elementary School, the Bloomington Fire Station, and the Binnewater parking lot. A map can be found on the festival website at https://rosendalepicklefestival.org/
“We’re happy to do it again,” Coyne said.
Festival hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $5 for adults and free for children under 12. For more information, visit https://rosendalepicklefestival.org/.