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Sauerkraut Weekend continues with fireworks tonight in Phelps

Despite less than perfect weather, the Phelps Sauerkraut Weekend kicked off its 47th year August 4th with an afternoon of activities for the entire family.

The cabbage head decorating contest brought in several creative entries with first place going to Lily Westcott in the 6 to 8 age range with her Minnie Mouse creation. The day also included food and craft vendors, rides, live music and the Krautrageous Photo Scavenger Hunt.

Festivities continued the next day, August 5th, with the Krauter 20K and 5K races, the Mustang Rally Benefit Car Show, food trucks, the sauerkraut recipe contest and parade. Weather was rainy and turned cool by Saturday. Vendors said business was a bit slow but nothing was going to keep visitors away from a grand parade and they were seen setting up chairs lining the streets along the parade route before 3 p.m. Saturday afternoon.

Still to come this evening is the sauerkraut cake cutting at 7 p.m., live music by the Zac Brown Tribute Band and fireworks at 10 p.m.

Tomorrow, Aug. 6th, has more to offer for the whole family including arts and crafts for the kids starting at 10:30 a.m., the kiddie parade at noon and a chicken barbecue at the American Legion. The hot dog with kraut and the kraut eating contests begin at 12:30 p.m. Enjoy live music by the Grove Street Band throughout the afternoon, the Sauerkraut Bike Show from 1 to 4 p.m. in the fire hall and the Kiddie Pedal Tractor Pull at 1:45 p.m. Misfit Karma plays live at the American Legion starting at 2 p.m. and the Cabbage Races start at 2:45 p.m. in the pavilion.

According to the festival’s website, the Phelps Sauerkraut Festival began in 1967 with a one-day program began by the Phelps Chamber of Commerce. With Phelps as one of the largest sauerkraut producers in the world, it only seemed fitting for such as festival to celebrate the vegetable.Over time, a committee was formed to take up various aspects of the festival.  made up of members from the community and community organizations took over the various aspects of this festival with the support of the Silver Floss Sauerkraut Company (now Great Lakes Kraut Company – a part of Agrilink, Inc.) and Birds Eye Foods. In 2013, the festival was expanded into a village-wide four-day event and became much of what it is today.

Sauerkraut got its start in Phelps in 1895 when Henry Bannister Whitney and A.S. Vincent opened the Empire State Pickling Company along the railroad tracks at Quarry and Pleasant streets producing sauerkraut and pickles. In 1901, the company was sold to Birton E. Babcock, who made the company famous with his Silver Floss line. Business was booming for many years, seeing successful expansion into Shortsville, Junius, Gorham, Reed’s Corners and Waterport. It was more than 20 years after Babcock’s death that the company was sold to Comstock and in 1985 Comstock left Phelps ending the era of sauerkraut in the small community. But cutting continued in Phelps and eventually went to Shortsville and Gorham.

Visit phelpsny.com to see a full schedule of events.

Tammy Whitacre is a reporter for FL1 News covering Seneca and Wayne counties. Send news tips to tammy@fingerlakes1.com and follow @FL1_TWhitacre for the latest.

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