Mansfield offers St. Patrick's Day with a side of pickles

Posted Thursday, Mar. 14, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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MANSFIELD -- The city's second annual celebration of St. Patrick's Day and local pickle history is bringing a lot more to the table this weekend, including a slight name change.

The World's Only Best Maid St. Paddy's Pickle Parade and Palooza -- Palooza was added to emphasize its three fun runs -- has added a half-day, quadrupled the music and upsized the parade to at least 80 entries.

The downtown event will now start Friday evening with a live band and a free movie.

The big day is Saturday. Vendors open at noon ahead of the 2 p.m. parade down Main Street, followed by a party a block east on Smith Street with three bands and other entertainment until about 10 p.m.

An estimated 5,000 people turned out for the parade and festivities last year. Organizers expect this expanded version to draw more.

"It was just so much fun last year that when it was over, we all said, 'I wish it wasn't over!'" said Ann Smith, one of the 20 founding Pickle Queens. "It was just so crowded that it needed to be bigger. It wasn't just a case of us trying to create something new. It was more like the situation demanded it."

New firsts

The second annual event brings many firsts, including a children's area with bounce houses, a petting zoo and tennis instruction. More than 40 booths will provide food and games and give churches, civic organizations and others a chance "to get out and meet the public," Smith said.

And instead of finishing with a post-parade party at Steven's, the event will move the bands, pickle-related contests and other activities out onto Smith Street, a block east of Main Street.

"It's going to be more like a street party," said Delilah McMasters, a Pickle Queen and owner of Ruffled Rebelles, a kids' clothing shop downtown.

She said the Queens will introduce a younger wing to the royal sisterhood -- the Pickle Princesses, who will join the parade.

Lots of pickles

The event is part promotion for the downtown economy and part homage to Mansfield's proud history with the pickle, as home to Best Maid Products.

Founded in 1926, the condiment maker cranks out about 50 million pickles a year. Of course, it supplies pickles and juice to the event for sale and for the pickle-eating and pickle-juice-drinking contests.

The most obvious link between St. Patrick's Day and Best Maid pickles -- the color green -- was the basis for the theme.

"It seemed like a perfect fit," McMasters said. "It started as a joke. We were all in our 40s -- you have to be 40 or over -- and it's just quirky. It's fun. ...

"This has a small-community feel, and the community came home for it. They loved it."

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