by Dan Holland
It was all about the pickles when the 3nd annual Cleveland Pickle Fest came to the grounds of Brecksville-Broadview Heights High School Aug. 28. The event, sponsored by the Greater Cleveland Volunteers, was a benefit to promote volunteerism in the Greater Cleveland area.
The event, which kicked off with a 5K run, 1-mile walk and 10K bike ride, featured more than a dozen food vendors with many offering a variety of pickles and fermented and non-fermented food choices. A pickle eating contest, live music and a kids’ play zone were other highlights of the festival.
The inaugural event, held at the North Coast Harbor in downtown Cleveland in August 2019, drew 16,000 visitors. According to Dianna Hall, communications manager for Greater Cleveland Volunteers, last year’s scaled-down event, held at Crocker Park in Westlake, focused mainly on a 5K race.
“The Cleveland Pickle Fest is a fundraiser for Greater Cleveland Volunteers, which is a non-profit organization that represents a hundred other non-profits to promote volunteerism and to recruit volunteers in Cuyahoga County,” she explained. “This year, we’re at Brecksville-Broadview Heights High School, where we’ve had wonderful cooperation from the school district, from the superintendent all the way through.”
For most attendees, it was all about the pickles.
“We love pickles, and it’s something fun to do with the kids,” said Broadview Heights resident Alisha Glasser, who attended with husband Drew and children Carter, Laci and Sienna. “So far, we’ve had some lemonade and some pickles. It’s all good.”
“Who doesn’t like pickles?” added Marcia Filmer of Broadview Heights, who attended with husband Shawn and children, Hope and Simon. “And our daughter is a runner, so it was a unique 5K for her to participate in. With all the different kinds of pickles, we just had to check it out.”
Though the event was a first for many, some such as Todd Zieja of Medina, who came with wife Monica and children Danica, Dustin and Tanner, have attended similar regional events.
“We came for the pickles,” he said. “We previously attended the Pittsburgh pickle festival, Picklesburgh, about two years ago, and we wanted to go to that again. But this is a little closer to home with three kids. We just love it.”
The top three finishers overall in the 5K, and winners in each age group all received pickle-themed awards/prizes.
Women’s overall first-place finisher Alexis Mayer of Parma said she decided to run the race, along with friend Mason Moore of Akron, as a warm up for future races.
“It was just for fun,” said Mayer, who has previously competed in the Cleveland and Akron Marathons. “We decided to run the 5K since we haven’t been able to run many races because of COVID. We’ve been training for a race we’re going to run in October.”
“This was actually our first race together,” added Moore, who finished second overall in the men’s division. “We have the Columbus Marathon coming up in a couple of months, and we’ve been training for that.”
Broadview Heights resident Dan Boyle, who ran the 5K while pushing his special needs daughter, Courteney, alongside niece Autumn Harwood of Olmsted Falls, said he tries to run as many local races as possible. He and Courteney founded the Team Boyle Foundation to raise money and create awareness for the special needs community.
“We did [Broadview Heights] Mayor Alai’s 5K in July,” he said. “We’re set to do the Cleveland Half Marathon in October, and we’ll also be running 20 miles in February at Disney World in the Disney Princess Fairy Tale Challenge. Courteney’s hobby is to run all over Cleveland.” ∞