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Pickle Fest

Watch some of the 2013 Pickle Fest parade, with the Eastside High Sshool band, Volkswagen Beetles and a monster truck. Journal Gazette video by Chad Ryan.

Photos by Chad Ryan | The Journal Gazette
Karla Warner reaches into the dill pickle sampler to grab a couple for Mckenna Kemsoth, 6, and her brother Caleb, 4, at the 17th annual St. Joe Pickle Festival.

Pickle fest’s charm leaves nobody sour

Tom Baker, left, gets a laugh out of his mom, Kay, as she tried to take a picture of him at the festival.

– OK, here’s the dill.

The 17th annual Pickle Festival in St. Joe highlighted those vinegar-preserved cucumbers during a three-day festival that ended Saturday.

But the memories – and aftertaste – will linger. Hey, we are talking about pickles.

“I love it,” said Jessica Lortie, 38, who cheered on her son, Douglas, as he played a baritone horn for Butler’s Eastside High School marching band Saturday. “The parade is my favorite part because I get to watch him. It never gets old.”

Lortie’s grandfather, Dominic, enjoys waving to the kids as they go by on the train ride.

“It’s just a nice town,” the 86-year-old World War II vet said, sitting in a shaded area. “I like it all, but I like living the best.”

While the smells of various carnival foods wafted through the air, subdued but fun-loving revelers frequented various activities. There was the tour of Sechler’s Pickles factory, a horseshoe contest, children’s pedal tractor pull and – 15-year-old Codey Ross’ favorite – the Sticky Wall.

“I’ve been coming since I was 10,” he said, watching his friends take part in an archery contest. “They used to have this big bungee cord thing, but I don’t see it this year.”

The festival takes place in a community of about 500 people. The event doesn’t rival Fort Wayne’s Three Rivers Festival, but it’s not meant to, visitors say. It’s small-town gathering for a small town.

“That’s why I like it,” Dominic Lortie said. “It’s just a lot of nice people who come together.”

Like Lisa Sarsien and Beckey Brockman. After more than a decade of selling sewing goods, they consider themselves a pickled pair. They peddled handmade kitchen towels, animal-themed blankets, slippers and similar merchandise.

“We’ve been coming here for 12 years,” said Sarsien, a Waterloo resident. “I do the knitting and she crochets. It works out fine.”

Brockman said she’s not being partial to pickles by saying the St. Joe festival is her favorite.

“They just treat you so well,” the Avilla resident said. “We both have trouble getting around. We told the organizers about it, and the next year the bathrooms were right behind us.

“It’s like, what won’t these folks do for you?”

pwyche@jg.net

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