When Tropical Storm Ophelia paid Maryland a surprise visit the weekend of Sept. 22 and 23, hopes for The Big Dill World’s Largest Pickle Party soured.
Happily, it’s been rescheduled for the weekend of Nov. 11 and 12, with 48 of the original 51 vendors still able to attend on the new dates, so the festival-goers will still be able to basically enjoy the full experience. Coincidentally, the new dates serve as the perfect lead-in to National Pickle Day, which is on Nov. 14, 2023, as everyone with a brine knows.
For attendees, a change in date may involve the inconvenience of changing plans — which can’t be minimized, as attendees come from all 50 states. For some of the vendors, though, the sudden postponement can leave them with an overload of perishable inventory and no customers to whom it can be sold.
Kevin Baxter, owner of The Big Dill, said his company always wants to support small businesses and vendors, who are “the heart of this festival.” After all, his own company comprises only four or five members.
When the storm forced the festival’s postponement, Baxter said The Big Dill sought to help vendors get out of the pickle they were in.
“Some of them are coming from five, six hours [away], and they’re small businesses so they’re going to load up,” he said. “We were expecting 10,000 people to be there for that weekend. When that didn’t happen, there were people who hit us up and said, ‘I have all this inventory. Is there something you can do for us?’”
The Big Dill put out a call to their hundreds of thousands of social media followers, whom he said will buy all things pickle-related.
Working with Sweet G’s Bakery and Cafe, Baxter was able to reach six million people on social media to help the bakery unload their inventory to delighted pickle-lovers. “She makes these dill pickle puffs, and they are amazing, and dill pickle hard pretzels….We were able to put out a post for her,” Baxter said. “What was fun is we’ll see on our page her calling in reinforcements, getting her whole family there. And then there’ll always be the post, ‘We are sold out. We are completely sold out.’”
“We always tell vendors, ‘You’re not just going to get the two days when you sign on board with us,” Baxter said, explaining that people sign on to participate in the September festival the previous December. “We’re going to highlight your products. We’re going to highlight you, we’re going to highlight your story. We did a whole podcast last year called ‘The Road to The Big Dill,’ where we interviewed all of them and learn about their businesses. So, we’re going to get you all that exposure in addition to just being there.”
While a few vendors from September are not able to attend on the rescheduled dates, Baxter told Baltimore Fishbowl they have two exciting new vendors joining the festival who learned about it since the postponement.
“So, we have Frank’s Red Hot who released a dill pickle flavor….So that was great. And we built a whole activation for them, a giant 10-foot replica of the bottle and everything,” Baxter said.