A different kind of festival
By Alexander R. Brown , Contributing Writer
Rosendale smelled like dill while brine flowed like water on Sunday Nov. 24, at the fifth annual International Pickle Festival. Whatever your preference, whether it be Garlic Dills, Kosher Dills, Half Sours, pickled beets, Polish sausage or pig's knuckles, you could find it there.
Upon entering the tent, after getting a green pickle hand stamp, you see the pickle-judging table where amateur picklers come from as far away as Rochester, N.Y., to see if their own recipe can measure up. When competing with items like "Lyonsville Sugarhouse Dog Tongues," "Windy City Wasabeans" and "Dracula's Comeuppance" creativity is a must.
And if pickles are not your preference, there is always the Japanese traditional dancing of the Matushima Fuji & Sakura Thai group.
"I can't believe they came half way around the world to dance in Rosendale," said Cathy Brooks, wife of Bill Brooks, the creator of the International Pickle Festival. So how did the International Pickle Festival originate?
Mr. Brooks, while munching on a deep-fried pickle, said, "We decided to have a party for some friends and it got out of hand."
It started when five friends of the Brooks' from Japan wanted a pickle party, and it grew from there. This year, about 30 people from Japan came to the event.
The Chamber of Commerce has always sponsored the International Pickle Festival, and the proceeds have gone to the Rosendale Recreation Center and Rosendale Food Pantry. But what is most surprising about the Pickle Festival is the huge crowd it draws.
"The first year they laughed a lot, and those who laughed and didn't come the first year came the next," said Mr. Brooks. "Last year we had 4,000 people."
"It's a hoot to come to. We have people that come from the city, we have local and farm people, it's truly amazing," said ticket taker Juliette Daniels. "People come here because they don't know what to expect and it's for a good cause."
Parking attendant Barbara Rumsey said, "This is my third year up here. It's fun and it's different."
Different definitely describes what you will see at the International Pickle Festival. With contests like the pickle toss, pickle judging, pickle juice drinking and music ranging in styles from American roots to accordion and bagpipe, there's something for everyone. By roaming from one tent to another you will find booths run by local bakeries, farms, restaurants and hand-crafters.
Or maybe you want to get some pickling advice. Cyndee Temple, whose friends call her "Pickle Queen," said, "Sugar's the key ingredient." Tempie won last year's pickle judging contest with her "Supersweet Bread & Butter Chips." Temple had plenty of cucumber gardening advice for the novice pickler.
"If you start using piped water from the ground you don't get the minerals. Black plastic holds moisture down and pulls moisture from the roots," said Temple, who uses an antique blade to hand-cut all of her pickles. "We made 170 quarts this year."
Temple is just one of the many fascinating and brine-obsessed people you will meet at the International Pickle Festival, not to mention the many fascinating pickled foods you'll encounter there too. Mmm, pass the pickled pig's knuckles pigs have knuckles?