Pickles, food, fun draw festivalgoers to Pickle Palooza in Woodstock

WOODSTOCK – Eleven-year-old Lillie Simons walked off with two shiny gold trophies Saturday after twice burying her face in whip cream and demonstrating her pickle chip-finding prowess.

So what that each trophy fit in the palm of her hand? It was all about the bragging rights.

Lillie was at Pickle Palooza at the Woodstock Harley-Davidson grounds Saturday with her sister Maggie, 10. The Marengo residents were with their cousins Ava, Cooper and Tanner and aunt Laura Simons, who was visiting from Chicago for the day.  

“We’re fans of pickles,” said Ginny Simons, mother to Ava, Cooper and Tanner.

The second annual event was coordinated by the Woodstock Chamber of Commerce and sponsored by Claussen Pickle Co. of Woodstock. This year’s event honored veterans and benefitted the Woodstock VFW, said Kathryn Loprino, chamber president and owner of the Woodstock Public House.

The event featured fun family events such as find-the-pickle and toss-the-pickle contests. The National Guard ran a football toss. Free pickles were offered, and live music was featured throughout the day and into the night.

A tribute to veterans took place about 6:45 p.m.

A U.S. Navy veteran and incoming vice commander for the Lake in the Hills American Legion, Evan Breyn of Crystal Lake said he appreciated the event’s focus on helping vets. It also was just plain fun, he said.

“The music has been exceptional,” said Breyn, 45. “And Woodstock Harley has been a most gracious host.”

Breyn was there, too, as part of a motorcycle club selling raffle tickets to benefit a Marengo family whose 5-year-old son is battling leukemia. The group set up a booth not far from the stage. 

“I think it’s great,” Breyn said of Pickle Palooza. “I just wish more people would have been aware of it and come out.”

Loprino and Chamber Executive Director Shari Gray said the day’s cloudy weather likely hindered turnout. Organizers hoped to draw 800 to the festival Saturday. Still, those in attendance appeared to be enjoying themselves, including a group of young women posing for pictures with pickle mascots Hunter Loprino, 12, and his friend Cole Curtis, 13, of Huntley. 

The Simons family said they definitely had fun, although Ava Simons, 11, said she might have enjoyed too much of a good thing.

“I’m all pickled out,” she said. “They’re so good. But I’m sorry, I’ve had like 20 pickles today.”

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