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Relishing In The Converted Cucumber 

Last year’s Greenlawn Pickle Festival drew thousands, and organizers expect this year to be no different.

Thousands will flood into Greenlawn to indulge in salty and sour snacks when the Greenlawn-Centerport Historical Association’s 34th annual Pickle Festival returns Saturday, Sept. 21.

A donation of $5 is suggested for all adults, and children 12 and under get in free. Attendees can relish in the converted cucumber from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. and will find pickles in dozens of different flavors.

Hayrides, bands, antique cars, a maze, and pickle-themed merchandise are all staples that will be returning this year. A special treat will be the return of the Lollipop Farm Train, which has been restored after a 46-year hiatus.

“There’s something there for everyone. We will have some entertainment this year. We will have a band playing. I think there will be a little dog show as well, so there are a lot of little things going on to amuse everyone,” Deanne Rathke, of the Greenlawn-Centerport Historical Association, said.

The Pickle Festival was not just created to satisfy Town of Huntington residents’ cravings for the crunchy treat. Pickles helped shape the Greenlawn community back in the early 1900s. Individuals like Samuel “The Greenlawn Pickle King” Ballton gained wealth and notoriety through means of cultivating pickles.

“It’s to commemorate the early pickle industry that was in Greenlawn. It was from about 1880 until 1924 when there was a pickle blight. And they just continued growing cucumbers in Greenlawn and cabbage for sauerkraut. So, it’s a local festival that the historical association puts on so that the community is aware that there once was a pickle industry that once was a thriving industry here in Greenlawn,” Rathke said.

Keeping the 34-year tradition alive will be two pickle vendors who will bring over 100 barrels of the stuff to the festival.

“We mostly have one vendor who does the pickled items. He’s from Horman’s Pickles in Glen Cove. And our other major vendor who has pickled items would be Divine Brine, and he started in Huntington Station. We try to favor the local merchants,” Rathke said.

A third-generation pickle maker, Nick Horman took the reigns of the Horman’s Pickles over a decade ago.

“My grandfather started the business in the ’50s in Brooklyn and came to Glen Cove in the ’70s. Then, we moved to a new facility in ’92, and I was just a kid. In 2003 we started selling some pickles in flea markets, and my dad taught me how to make pickles. Then, I got connected with farmer’s markets and started building a branch. Now I am taking the torch and exploring new ways to sell pickles,” Horman said.

Horman describes the company as an “old-fashioned pickle stand with a contemporary twist.” Besides selling standard sour pickles, Horman has some wild flavors, like jalapeno, honey mustard and horseradish. But, to make a quality pickle, a lengthy process is required.

“One way [to make one of our pickles] is called the vacuum fermentation, and that is a collaboration with active microbes. You do it in a saltwater brine. In a warm temperature, it ferments. Fermentation is the process [by] which the natural sugars of the cucumber produce lactic acid, and lactic acid is what preserves food. It lowers the pH to where microbes that get us sick don’t grow,” Horman said.

The Greenlawn Pickle Festival will be held at John Gardiner Farm, located at 900 Park Ave. in Greenlawn. The rain date is Sunday, Sept. 22.

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