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33rd annual pickle festival runs out of pickles

Howard Fine of Ronkonkoma takes a bite into

Howard Fine of Ronkonkoma takes a bite into one of the several pickle varieties offered at the 33rd annual Pickle Festival at the John Gardiner Farm in Greenlawn. (Sept. 22, 2012) Credit: Johnny Milano

In the late 1800s, Alexander Gardiner produced enough pickles on his Greenlawn farm to supply all of Long Island and New York City.

He became known as “The Pickle Pioneer.”

And more than two centuries later, thousands of pickle enthusiasts descended on his farm Saturday for the 33rd annual Pickle Festival.

“Greenlawn is the pickle capital of the world,” said Bill Perks, member of the Greenlawn-Centerport Historical Organization.

A menagerie of pickles, from garlic to kosher, were the hot commodity for more than 4,000 people who came to the pickle paradise at the John Gardiner Farm.

“There’s not a lot of people who do pickling,” said Renée Frantzen, 68, of Centerport, explaining the widespread attraction.

The Pickle Festival is run by the Greenlawn-Centerport Historical Association. Proceeds from the event go to the organization’s preservation efforts.

The John Gardiner Farm was donated to the association after the death of its previous owner Herbert Gardiner in 2002. The property is still a fully functioning farm with a vegetable garden, corn stalks and chicken coop but the farmhouse built in the 1700s has become a piece of history.

“The money that we make here goes to the preservation of this historical house and another in Centerport,” said Dennis Freres, president of the Greenlawn-Centerport Historical Association.

The farm’s history continues with the addition of a large toy train from the Lollipop Farm, a Syosset petting zoo and farm that closed in 1967.

“A lot of people come to this farm for this train, because they used to go in it as kids,” Freres said.

Despite being stocked with 6,000 pickles, by mid-afternoon the Pickle Festival had run out of pickles.

“It’s getting bigger and bigger every year,” said Freres.

Due to the lack of pickles, people were let in free of charge and encouraged to enjoy everything else the festival had to offer.

Nick Zummo, 50, of Greenlawn, drove the tractor for the hayride, fitting more than a dozen people on the flat bed behind him for each ride.

“This is my sixth year doing it,” he said. “And I love it.”


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