Last year, torrential rains doused the third annual St. Patrick’s Day Pickle Parade & Palooza, ending the party like an angry parent.
Still, the crowd easily set a third consecutive attendance record.
John Pressley, president of the Pickled Mansfield Society, believes the festival is becoming a juggernaut.
“With a 100 percent chance of rain that day, we still had 13,000 people come out to our parade,” said Pressley, who expects another attendance record Saturday for the fourth annual parade, music entertainment, crafts and children’s activities. “It’s mind-boggling, because we really didn’t expect to have the following that we do.”
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Some of the key attractions are expanding along with the crowds. Those include the parade, which will have about 90 entries, and vendors — 60 retail booths, including arts and crafts, and 14 food booths, Pressley said.
But it’s not just about the bigger market numbers, said Coleen Daniell, secretary of the Pickled Mansfield board. The event’s growing notoriety is generating a lot more vendor applications, which helps assure better vendors, she said.
“We have the luxury of being a known event, so we got to pick and choose,” Daniell said. “We tried to limit the number of resellers. We wanted to put the emphasis more on handcrafted things and cottage food.”
Daniel and 14 other Pickle Queens, all women at least 40 years old — the minimum membership age — organize the event and then change into their red wigs, green dresses and tiaras for the parade ride. The queens supply a quirky energy for the festival, and they eagerly point out that they tinkered with the words in the group’s name until its abbreviation was “PMS.”
“These Pickle Queens, for whatever reason, the community and the children are just drawn to them,” Pressley said. “It’s amazing the allure the girls have with their green dresses and red hair.”
The festival officially kicks off Thursday evening with a free showing of the movie Annie at Farr Best Theater and follows up Friday night with a live performance by country artist Clint Moody at Steven’s Garden and Grill.
Saturday gets underway early with 10K, 5K and Kids K runs.
The main festival activities start at 10 a.m., about two hours earlier than last year, with the children’s Pickle Playground, including bounce houses and a petting zoo, and the food and retail vendors.
The entertainment includes three musical acts on the main stage — Mack & Dyan Band at 11 a.m., Jolie Holliday at 2:30 p.m. and The Rental Rockers at 6:30 p.m. Last year, the Rockers played well into the storm on a covered stage that gave little cover. Pressley said that bold performance earned headliner rights for the band this time.
The pickle-eating, pickle-juice-drinking and pie-eating contests start at 5 p.m.
And the Rev. George Foley of St. Jude Catholic Church returns as honorary St. Patrick.
Robert Cadwallader, 817-390-7641
The St. Paddy’s Day Pickle Parade and Palooza’s website, www.pickleparade.org, has information including details on run registration, maps of the run routes and parade route.
7 p.m. Free showing of Annie at Farr Best Theater.
▪ Noon-7 p.m. Runners can pick up registration packets at Sports Authority, 1551 U.S. 287
▪ 7-10 p.m. Clint Moody performs at Steven’s Garden and Grill, 223 Depot St
▪ 7 a.m. Run registration at St. Jude Catholic Church, 500 E. Dallas St.
▪ 8 a.m. 10K
▪ 8:15 a.m. 5K
▪ 9:15 a.m. Dance and costume contests
▪ 9:30 a.m. Awards ceremony
▪ 9:45 a.m. Kids K (all ages welcome)
▪ 10 a.m. Pickle Playground opens on Smith Street; food court opens on Oak Street; vendor market opens on Smith Street
▪ 11 a.m. Beer tent opens on Oak Street; Mack & Dyan Band perform
▪ 1 p.m. Fourth annual World’s Only St. Paddy’s Pickle Parade
▪ 2:30 p.m. Jolie Holliday performs
▪ 5 p.m. Pickle-juice-drinking, pickle-eating and pie-eating contests
▪ 6:30 p.m. Award ceremony for parade and contest winners on Main Street Stage; The Rental Rockers perform