The World’s Only St. Paddy’s Pickle Parade & Palooza already features a massive parade, well-preserved Pickle Queens, Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders, tons of live music, vendors, free playgrounds and a 10k, 5k and kids race.
As organizers prepared for the seventh annual event, they wondered how they could improve upon an event that drew between 30,000 to 45,000 people to downtown Mansfield last year.
Organizers think they have.
The event has been expanded to two days with the festivities starting in the evening of March 16 and continuing all day on March 17.
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The theme for this year is Mardi Gras: We don’t hide our crazy, we parade it down Main Street.
Friday night’s festivities will begin at 5 p.m. with a first-of-its-kind beer keg race down Main Street.
Pickle Queen Amanda Kowalski dreamed up the idea after seeing bar stool races in Ben Wheeler, a small town outside Tyler.
“What if we did beer kegs instead of bar stools because we have a brewery?” Kowalski asked.
That’s how the first Dirty Job Brewing Pickle Parade Beer Keg Races were born.
“We thought it would give the dads something to do,” Kowalski said.
Anyone who wants to participate in the keg race should sign up at pickleparade.org before March 1.
Kowalski said she approached the owner of Dirty Job Brewing, Derek Hubenak, and he got excited about it. The starting line will be at East Broad Street and Main Street. Racers will head north on Main Street, turn around at Oak Street and zoom back to the finish line at East Broad Street.
The keg races have sparked a lot of interest from as far away as San Diego, Hubenak said.
“I guarantee it will go international in no time,” he said. “There are crazy people who are looking to do something like this. I honestly don’t know what to expect.”
The event will have different categories, mostly focused on the beer brewing industry. The Beer Brewers category will be for anyone who has their own brewing business. There’s the Home Brew category for racers who brew at home. The Citizen category is for anyone else. And the Novelty category will have non-motorized kegs that could be pulled by people or even the family dog.
The race is open to competitors 16 years or older with a valid drivers license. Full rules are on the website.
Winners from each category will receive trophies. Winners from the Citizen, Beer Brewers and Home Brewer categories also get to compete in the final race for the big trophy, which will have their name inscribed on it. The winning keg contraption and the trophy will be on display at the Dirty Job Brewing taproom for a year.
On the other end of the spectrum, Saturday’s festivities will feature another first: a Baby Parade.
Pickle Queen Cindy Pressley came up with the idea after visiting the Strawberry Festival in Pasadena just outside Houston.
The contest will have prizes for the most pickled, best Mardi Gras theme and the most creative. It’s at 10 a.m. on the community stage. The parade will feature decorated wagons, baby strollers or baby cars.
“We’re really excited about it,” Pressley said. “Be creative and you never know what you could come up with. We’re hoping it’s going to be a big crowd.”
Parents can sign up now at pickleparade.org for the baby parade. It’s open to children ages six months to 48 months. The parade is limited to the first 25 children who sign up.
Look for more information on the Pickle Parade & Palooza in the coming weeks.