Arts & Entertainment

Second Annual Hinsdale Horseradish Festival Set to Open Friday

Credits: Anne Lee

HINSDALE, NY  – The plethora of local festivals provided the inspiration for the Hinsdale Horseradish Festival, which Fat Root, LLC, has planned for first weekend in June for the second year in a row.

“There are all sorts of festivals in the area: The Stink Fest in Bradford, Pennsylvania, the Garlic Festival in Cuba, the Maple Festival in Franklinville, the Corn Festival in Eden and the list goes on,” said Jeff Vandecar, part owner of Fat Root.

The limited liability company, which bottles and sells prepared horseradish, was begun in April 2014 when Vandecar and a few of his friends were relaxing and sharing beers, talking about the community and brainstorming events that would promote the Town of Hinsdale. Steve Clute, another Fat Root owner and the Town of Hinsdale Historian, shared the story of Maude Bell with Vandecar and Jeff Goodyear, also part owner.

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“In the early 1900s Maude lived in Hinsdale along the Olean Creek behind what is now Crosby’s Mini-Mart,” Vandecar said. “She grew horseradish and would grind it and transport it to Olean by wagon. We reached out to all of Maude’s relatives we could find to request using her name on our product. Thus our product is named Maude Bell’s Prepared Horseradish.”

But the goal was not just a company but to draw attention to Hinsdale in a unique way, and it worked. Last year the festival attracted about 1,000 people, and Vandecar said he expects that to double this year.

“This year we are working with Good Times of Olean, Four Mile Brewing and Little Chicago Distillery,” he said. “We have three top-notch bands providing entertainment. We are fortunate to have several local organizations participating with us this year.”

The festival is primarily sponsored by the Hinsdale Historical Society and the Hinsdale and Ischua volunteer fire eepartments. This year, the Hinsdale Central School Drama Club is publishing a cookbook with horseradish recipes, and the Hinsdale Colorguard, Hinsdale Archery club and the Olean-area Irish Dancers will perform. The Cattaraugus County Sherriff and New York State Police canine units will also make an appearance.

“This year we have many new demos, activities for the younger visitors, (and) we are having a kickoff festival party Friday from 5 (p.m.) to 9 (p.m.),” Vandecar said.

The festival will feature live music each day. The lineup is Diggin Roots Band, Friday, 6-9 p.m.; Zephyr, Saturday, 3-6 p.m., and Nick Cody and the Creak Road Band, Sunday, 1-4 p.m. Jolly Roger and Rob Barry will  provide DJ music when the bands are not playing.

One of the festival highlights this year is Knockerball, a sport in which the participants suit up in a giant inflatable ball with handles on the inside and run around in it, hitting other players and bouncing around in something similar to a hamster ball. 

“Knockerball is the new rave sport activity in the U.S. We learned that the Good Times of Olean had purchased a number of balls and was planning to begin league play at their facility on East State Street in Olean,” Vandecar said. “We met with them and asked if they would consider bringing their new activity to our festival. They thought it would be a great opportunity to help promote our festival and promote Knockerball to our area."

He continued, "Good Times is having a three-on-three Knockerball soccer tournament on June 3 and will have balls available for people to experience. The tournament is limited to eight teams, and the balls can be rented at a cost of $10 per 15 minutes.”

Admission to the Hinsdale Horseradish festival is free for children under age 16 if accompanied by an adult. Admission Friday night is $2; on Saturday and Sunday admission is $5. On Sunday the festival is offering free admission to all veterans and first responders.

Festival hours are 5-9 p.m. on Friday; 11 a.m.-7 p.m. on Saturday, and 11 a.m.-5 p.m. on Sunday. 


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