'Pickle Paradise' event to celebrate tasty part of suburban town's history (2024)

  • R. CHRISTIAN SMITHChicago Tribune
  • 0

ST. CHARLES — For those looking for something to do after a long week, consider heading out to Pottawatomie Park in St. Charles on Friday, where many will be openly enjoying the natural, green substance that at one time put the city in the spotlight.

Pickles, of course, will be the subject of celebration at the newest event put on by the St. Charles Park District from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Friday. Pickle Paradise is an all-ages free event that looks to honor the city’s pickle past while providing the perfect pretense to get families out and enjoying the park.

“When we created it, we were just thinking, you know, what’s silly, what’s going to get the community out,” said Taylor Krawczyk, assistant superintendent of recreation for the park district. “We just wanted a fun community event on a Friday evening for families to just come out and be together, really.”

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The peculiar event may have some in a pickle trying to figure out what put the park district on this particular path, but perhaps the answer is clear to the people who have a passion for the past: the Illinois General Assembly once declared St. Charles the “Pickle Capital of the World.”

As tribute to the unique distinction, the St. Charles Park District has planned a number of pickle-themed events.

Let’s start with the “Big Dill,” a pickleball tournament for adults ages 18 and older. The mixed doubles games, which will take place from 4 to 6 p.m., are geared to intermediate and competitive players, according to a news release from the district.

Those who feel their pickleball skills are too green to play but still want to be active can instead sign up for the Dill Dash.

This one-mile fun run will take participants, who are encouraged to dress the pickle part, along the park’s paved sidewalks, stairs and gravel. For those who need a quick refreshment, gherkins will be available along the race route.

The dash starts at 5:30 p.m., and advance registration is $24, according to the release. The event is for everyone ages 3 and older.

For those who want their pickle products without the perspiration that a run in the early summer might bring, there is the all-age Pickle Patch. With a $5 ticket, participants can sample pickles and related products from local producers.

According to the release, proceeds from the event will benefit the district’s financial aid program, which looks to provide recreational experiences to everyone.

The event will also host Caputo’s food truck and offer pickle-inspired drinks from Pollyanna and Riverlands Brewing Companies. For adult drinks, valid identification is required upon entry, and those interested can purchase a wristband in advance.

To purchase tickets or learn more about the various events, go to stcparks.org/events.

Entrance to Pickle Paradise is free, so everyone can enjoy DJ entertainment, trivia from the St. Charles History Museum, a pickling conversation with Primrose Farm, selfie opportunities and more, organizers said.

St. Charles was not designated the “Pickle Capital of the World” in 1978 because pickles were grown or produced in large quantities. Instead, the city was once home to Pickle Packers Inc., a nonprofit organization that promotes and markets pickles around the world.

While the organization moved to Washington, D.C., in 2004, it spent nearly a half century in St. Charles, having moved to the city in 1955, according to records at the St. Charles History Museum.

During that time, Pickle Packers Inc. developed many marketing campaigns to promote the green snack, spanning everything from novelty products like a pickle phone to fitness campaigns promoting the health benefits of eating the low-calorie pickle, records at the museum show.

Pickle Packers will not be in attendance on Friday, but its current executive vice president, John H. Cox, said in an email that the organization is glad that St. Charles continues to hold the title of Pickle Capital of the World.

“We are so grateful to the St. Charles History Museum and the St. Charles Park District for orchestrating such a vibrant and fun event for pickle lovers,” Cox said.

Photos: Illinois State Fair political days through the years

2012 State Fair

'Pickle Paradise' event to celebrate tasty part of suburban town's history (1)

2012 State Fair

'Pickle Paradise' event to celebrate tasty part of suburban town's history (2)

2015 State Fair

'Pickle Paradise' event to celebrate tasty part of suburban town's history (3)

2015 State Fair

'Pickle Paradise' event to celebrate tasty part of suburban town's history (5)

2007 State Fair

'Pickle Paradise' event to celebrate tasty part of suburban town's history (6)

2008 State Fair

'Pickle Paradise' event to celebrate tasty part of suburban town's history (7)

2008 State Fair

'Pickle Paradise' event to celebrate tasty part of suburban town's history (8)

2009 State Fair

'Pickle Paradise' event to celebrate tasty part of suburban town's history (9)

2012 State Fair

'Pickle Paradise' event to celebrate tasty part of suburban town's history (10)

2012 State Fair

'Pickle Paradise' event to celebrate tasty part of suburban town's history (11)

2005 State Fair

'Pickle Paradise' event to celebrate tasty part of suburban town's history (12)

2004 State Fair

'Pickle Paradise' event to celebrate tasty part of suburban town's history (13)

2003 State Fair

'Pickle Paradise' event to celebrate tasty part of suburban town's history (14)

2003 State Fair

'Pickle Paradise' event to celebrate tasty part of suburban town's history (15)

2006 State Fair

'Pickle Paradise' event to celebrate tasty part of suburban town's history (16)

2007 State Fair

'Pickle Paradise' event to celebrate tasty part of suburban town's history (17)

2012 State Fair

'Pickle Paradise' event to celebrate tasty part of suburban town's history (18)

2018 State Fair

'Pickle Paradise' event to celebrate tasty part of suburban town's history (19)

2012 State Fair

'Pickle Paradise' event to celebrate tasty part of suburban town's history (20)

2021 State Fair

'Pickle Paradise' event to celebrate tasty part of suburban town's history (21)

2021 State Fair

'Pickle Paradise' event to celebrate tasty part of suburban town's history (22)

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'Pickle Paradise' event to celebrate tasty part of suburban town's history (2024)
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