MOUNT OLIVE – The N.C. Pickle Festival will be held a little earlier than normal in 2019. Two weeks earlier, to be exact.
The date for the 2019 N.C. Pickle Festival will be Friday and Saturday, April 12-13.
Organizers opted to move the festival to avoid a conflict with Seymour Johnson Air Force Base’s 2019 Wings Over Wayne, which is set for Saturday and Sunday, April 26-27.
The date for the 2019 Wings Over Wayne was determined by the Air Force and the availability of the Air Force Thunderbirds. The popular open house and air show, held every two years, drew 230,000 people to the county in 2017.
The decision to change the festival date came in late June after conversations with Wings Over Wayne organizers, officials with Goldsboro Travel & Tourism, and festival vendors, suppliers, participating organizations, and key sponsors, including the Town of Mount Olive, Mt. Olive Pickle and the University of Mount Olive.
“The air show and the N.C. Pickle Festival are the two largest public events in Wayne County, but the air show is by far the larger of the two,” said festival co-chairman Julie Beck. “We discussed the logistics of drawing 200,000-plus people to Wayne County just for the air show, and the requirements for transportation, lodging and emergency services to support it. We decided it best, in this instance, to move our event to another weekend.”
The University of Mount Olive also has a big weekend of activities scheduled on the festival’s traditional date in 2019: it hosts the Conference Carolinas men’s and women’s lacrosse championships, drawing eight college teams and their fans to town. The festival’s new date alleviates conflict with availability of the university’s resources for parking and transportation, helicopter rides, and more.
This marks only the second time in its 32-year history that the annual celebration of pickles in downtown Mount Olive has not happened on the last full weekend in April. In 2011 the traditional festival weekend fell on Easter, and organizers moved the date to the following Friday and Saturday.
2019 also marks the second time the air show falls on the traditional pickle festival weekend. It happened in 2009, but both events were significantly smaller than they are now. Then, organizers from the base and the festival worked together to promote both events for a “Pickles and Planes” weekend in Wayne County.
“This time, it isn’t as simple,” Ms. Beck said. “We appreciate the base for all it brings to Wayne County, and the air show is a tremendous event. We chose to support the base by changing our date.”
The N.C. Pickle Festival draws tens of thousands to downtown Mount Olive each April. The 33nd North Carolina Pickle Festival gets underway in downtown Mount Olive Friday evening, April 12 from 5-10 p.m. The festival’s main day Saturday, April 13 will run from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. For festival details as they develop, go to www.ncpicklefest.org.