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An overhead view of 2016’s Pickle Fest. (FILE)

Annual Pickle Fest lures in new pickle-eating competitors

Lori Linnevers has experienced Pickle Fest more than a dozen times as a manager at Bagel Street Deli. 

She’s seen more than 100 pickles eaten as competitors fall by the wayside, overcome by vinegar and the size of the dill pickles. 

But one Pickle Fest moment in particular still stands out to her. 

“If you throw up, you’re disqualified,” Linnevers said. “There was a girl who threw up and then ate it so she wouldn’t be disqualified. That was the weirdest thing I’ve seen.”

Bagel Street Deli’s annual Pickle Fest will once again take place at 27 S. Court St. The competition is set to begin at 4 p.m. and will end at roughly 6 p.m. There is an entry fee of $5. 

Pickle Fest is a competition that incites the weirdest of people’s instincts. Instead of trying to win, people try to not end up with their heads in a bucket. And the event will take place Friday.

The goal of the competition is simple: Contestants try to eat the most pickles as possible within the allotted time. Pickle Fest’s 2017 winner Josh Ball — who went by the name “Puma” — ate seven pickles in ten minutes.

“People have different strategies. What works best I don’t know,” Linnevers said. 

All pickles must be consumed by the end of each 10-minute heat. Vomiting disqualifies contestants from the competition. There are empty buckets available for “relish” that is anything the contestants throw up.

Contestants who are able to consume, and keep down, the most pickles will get to donate the event’s proceeds to a charity of their choice (Bagel Street will match the donation), earn a T-shirt and will get to customize their own sandwich to be on the deli’s regular menu. 

“I think a lot of people would really be drawn to naming the sandwich, but I think it’s really cool you get to donate to the charity of your choice,” Melanie Koslovic, a junior studying communication sciences disorders, said. “All your pickle-eating hard work goes into something that matters to you.”

After 2017’s competition, owner of Bagel Street Deli Lenny Meyer said he couldn’t be able to consume numerous pickles, but the deli’s workers love the event and calls it their favorite day of the year, according to a previous Post report. 

Bagel Street Deli expects 40 to 50 contestants each year. The contestants use names other than their own, like “College Don,” “Marine Matt,” and “Bigger Dill.” 

There are rules, too, like any other competition: A pickle cannot be squeezed, so as to squeeze the juice out of it and make it easier to consume. Contestants are given water at the start of the competition to help them keep the pickles down.

Other than that, it’s a by-any-means-necessary approach to eating as many pickles as possible. 

“Some people try to eat them as fast as they can, which tends not to work very well,” Linnevers said. “Some people do little bites, some people eat it like a corn cob. There’s all kinds of different techniques.”

The world record for pickle eating belongs to a person who ate 2.99 pounds of pickles in six minutes. 

Linnevers has seen employees end up covered in “relish.” But she still said it’s one of the best days of the year for Bagel Street Deli. Pickle Fest in an Athens staple, even if it’s one of the strangest and most excited events of the year.

“For our employees, it’s their favorite day of the year,” Linnevers said. “It really is.”


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