Who’d have thought a pickle hunt would evolve into a much-anticipated community event?
It’s happening in Loudonville, where the Mohican Historical Society is gearing up for its 10th annual hun. The society, borrowing on a very old and not very well-known tradition of hunting for pickles at Christmastime, has turned it into an exciting and entertaining, tradition.
In many towns, the holidays often bring about excitement for tree lightings, parades and Santa visits. In the villages of Loudonville and Perrysville, those holiday activities are taking a back seat to pickles.
More specifically, residents are looking for pickles. The pickles, though, come with prizes.
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The Pickle Hunt is promoted by the Cleo Redd Fisher Museum and sponsored by nearly a dozen businesses.
According to the museum’s curator, Kenny Libben, the event has century-old origins rooted in a Victorian-era tradition of hiding a pickle in the tree on Christmas morning, with the first child to find it receiving an extra gift.
Pickle clues are highly sought-after by game players
Though that tradition has largely faded away, it is once again popular, at least in the Mohican area, Libben said. The current version of the pickle hunt was developed by the museum nearly a decade ago, first introduced at private events where, Libben said, “It was a fun game that quickly became the focus for attendees."
Seeing the positive response, the museum launched a community-wide pickle hunt with new pickles hidden throughout December, leading up to Christmas, and clues to their location posted on social media.
Libben said the rules are simple: A pickle is hidden, or “dropped,” somewhere in the Mohican area and a clue is posted on the Facebook group The Pickle Hunt. The first clues are vague, only giving a general location or a riddle pointing to where the pickle is located.
Throughout the day, if the pickle remains unfound, further clues will be posted. Once the pickle is found, the winner will be announced, and the hunt called off until the next pickle is dropped.
In addition to keeping the souvenir pickle, which is specially designed and printed from resin by Gorman-Rupp Industries, the winner is awarded one or more prizes donated by businesses.
Lord of the Pickles charged with finding the perfect hideaways
Competition is often fierce, sometimes with over 100 hunters showing up at the location to seek out the pickle, and nearly 500 hunters subscribing to the Facebook alerts. Each pickle is hand-painted by the L-P Art Club with a unique design and marked to commemorate the year it was found.
This year, a guest will hide the pickles — a role the museum has whimsically titled as the Lord of the Pickles — as Libben has said when the calendar turns to December all eyes are focused on him.
“Once people remember that I’m the one hiding pickles, I can’t go anywhere without being followed or spied on," he said. "I’ve even walked out of buildings before to overhear someone on the phone with their family or friends telling them that they thought I just hid a pickle in that location.”
The Lord of the Pickle creatively uses knowledge of Mohican geography to hide the pickles, placing them, for instance, at the foot of the Mohican Park fire tower or in an empty planter in the fountain in Central Park.
Jacklyn Bower Endslow has been named the 2022 Lord of the Pickle and will hide the pickles over the next three weeks.
Lucky winners receive the pickle and a prize
This year, each pickle comes with a prize of $50 or more, ranging from cash to gift, and includes a free hat from Bill Harris Ford. A grand prize pickle, revealed on Christmas Eve, carries a prize package of nearly $400.
In addition to Harris, other sponsoring businesses are Raby Hardware, The Alabaster Mouse, The Radiant Peacock, Drops of Essentials Health & Wellness, Rhoads Jewelry & Gifts, Kick & Gilman, Shrock Premier Custom Construction, Mohican Country Market, Loudonville Farmers Equity, Truly Inspired Paper Co., Lingenfelter Jewelers, Buzzard's Family Shoe Store, Mickey Mart, Subway, TOF Apiaries, Premier Metals Loudonville and Landoll's Mohican Castle.
Libben said the museum is grateful for the support shown by businesses, totaling nearly $1,000 in prize money, as well as the interest shown by the rest of the community.
“It’s amazing how popular this event has become, and we’re truly amazed by how quickly it has become a staple of the holiday season," he said.
For those hoping to join in on the fun, Libben noted, the best way is to search Facebook groups for The Pickle Hunt. Facebook users can subscribe and receive alerts when clues are posted, and even those who don’t have a Facebook account can still view clues and announcements.
This article originally appeared on Ashland Times Gazette: Let the games begin: Loudonville pickles come with prizes