Monroe’s Picklefest has it all, from pickle empanadas to popsicles

Jade van Rensburg feeds a pickle popsicle to her son, Lukas, 10-months, at the Monroe Farmers' Market to help her baby beat the heat last summer.

Children participating in the Monroe Farmers’ Market’s Market Minis program made their own pickles using cucumbers, salt, dill and vinegar Friday, when market goers sampled pickle lemonade and bought pickle popsicles at the tasting tent, and inflated pickles adorned the booths of vendors with pickle-related offerings.

It was all part of the Monroe Farmers’ Market’s annual Picklefest, which also included face painting by Dayna Dalton, pickle festival tattoos and photos with a pickle mascot.

Kelly Plunkett, right, manager of the Monroe Farmers’ Market, cuts off the tops of pickle popsicles for Francois van Rensburg.

Kelly Plunkett, the marker manager, said they had 100 popsicles and sold 40 within the first hour.

Nine vendors had pickle products, including pickle popcorn, scones, focaccia and a braised pork empanada with a garlic and dill dipping sauce.

Carrot Top Kitchens of Redding, the market’s regular pickle vendor, amped up its offerings for Picklefest, according to owner, Bill Annastas.

“We brought eight times more,” he said, while standing behind a table with jars of garlic dill and bread and butter pickles. “This whole table was filled with them.”

In addition to garlic dill and bread and butter, Carrot Top Kitchens had half sours, which were already sold out by late afternoon.

Annastas, who was working with Shawn Farley, said he always looks forward to Picklefest, which is now in its third year.

“It’s a great day, especially with the weather holding up,” Annastas said, alluding the rain from earlier in the day. “It’s a wonderful event.”

Sisters, Ryan van Rensburg, 3, and Poppy, 1, enjoy pickle popsicles.

Sunset Farm, of Naugatuck, sold dill and pickling cucumbers.

“It’s been good,” Kristen Schick said of business. “People buy a bunch and they’re planning to make lots of pickles. The event’s fun and it brings more people here.”

State Rep. Cindy Harrison,  R-69, and her daughter, Rebecca, represented their family business, Breezy Knolls Farm of Southbury, which sells all-natural, locally raised beef.

The Harrisons had copies of a recipe for dill pickle roast beef, which entails dumping a jar of pickles in a slow cooker with your preferred cut of beef.

The line at Little Kernel’s kettle corn seemed to be never-ending. For Picklefest, Elias Ervin, of Newtown, said they sprinkled dill pickle salt over their popcorn.

“There’s a little aftertaste. A little sweet, a little sour,” Ervin said. “People like it. Some people want us to keep it coming.”

Dayna Dalton paints a pickle character on a girl’s cheek during Picklefest at the Monroe Farmers’ Market on the town green Friday.

The Drunk Alpaca, which is based in Trumbull, offers snack foods using Connecticut craft beers, as well as hard cider, whiskey and bourbon produced in the Nutmeg State, from nuts and pretzels to potato chips.

On Friday, they had bags of beer glazed dill chips. “I keep refilling it,” Jessica Oen said of the space on her table. “It’s good. We’re doing really well.”

Judy Lamson-Rockwell, owner of Three Bridges Coffeehouse in Shelton, baked pickle cheddar scones. “When they gave us the pickle theme, I thought, ‘what can I do with baking?'” she said.

Among the other deals, Laurel Glen Farm of Shelton had specials on pickling cucumbers, marked down from $2.75 a pound to $1.75, and offered a 25-pound-box for $32; and Fatto a Mano of Westport brought a focaccia with zucchini, onions, olives asiago cheese and ham.

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