Covid-19 caused a big dilemma with the Winchester Pickle Festival last year, but we can finally relish in its return for 2021.
This festival, originally founded by Gary O’Neal, is on its 23rd year. It is always scheduled on the fourth Saturday of the month of September and it is slated for this upcoming Saturday, September 25 in downtown Winchester. The festival will be running from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and most of its charm will remain the same.
One major change this year though, is that the pickle parade is cancelled. In the past there have been upwards of 5,000 visitors and festival organizers put into consideration the size of the crowds from previous years gathering on the sidewalk to watch the parade. The small area of the parade makes it impossible to keep up with social distancing guidelines, so they have decided to leave the parade out of the festival for this year.
Another change to the festival this year is the addition of a COVID-19 vaccination clinic. The Greater Monadnock Public Health network will be doing a COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic hosted by the Winchester Centennial Lions Club from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the rear of the ambulance building on Parker Street.
Chairman of the Winchester Pickle Festival, Kevin Bazan, said that the main goal of the organizers is that this event be as safe as possible for everyone. “Making people feel safe was a major topic of the festival,” he said. There will be plenty of hand sanitizer throughout and though it is not mandatory, visitors are asked to wear masks while attending the festival. Bazan stressed that if anyone is not feeling well to consider staying home this year and waiting for next year to participate.
There are over 40 vendors expected to participate in the festival this year, all will have plenty of space between booths to allow for proper distancing protocols. “We have spread out our vendors so they are not located as close to each other as they have been in previous years,” Bazan explained. Each vendor is asked to have a pickle themed item available along with their other offerings. “We encourage every vendor that comes to the pickle festival to have at least one pickle item available whether they are a food vendor or a craft vendor,” said Bazan.
Free pickles will be available to all while supplies last. Patriot Pickle Company of Wayne, New Jersey is supplying the pickles again this year and there will be five different choices. Those choices include half-sour spears, red hot crosscuts, kosher dill spears, sweet horseradish chips and candied bread and butter. The purchase of these pickles was funded by vote at the town meeting by the residents of Winchester and will be distributed at the Winchester Kiwanis booth next to Winchester Town Hall.
Free parking will be available this year at the Winchester School on 85 Parker Street. A shuttle bus will be available all day. Free parking is also available at the E.L.M.M. Community Center back fields. “Parking has always been an issue with the Pickle Fest,” Bazan said, “so we encourage everyone to park at the school and walk down or take the shuttle bus.” Parking in the lot at the Town Hall is for handicapped parking only.
Leashed pets are welcome but encouraged to be left at home because the festival can get busy. Service animals are always welcome.
SCHEDULE OF EVENTS:
Mr. Pickle’s grand entrance on the lawn at the Town Hall at 10 a.m.
Chainsaw wood carving demo by Peter Auchmoody will be all day
The Pickle Festival Gift Shop and Information Booth will be all day
Charlie Brady will be performing at the Side Stage at 11 a.m.
Steel Rail will be performing on the Main Stage at noon
Pictures with Mr. Pickle begins at noon at the Gazebo.
Farmers Market and vendors on the lawn will be all day
For more information on the Pickle Festival and any updates to the schedule of events you can visit them on Facebook or online at www.winchesterpicklefestival.org.