Flavorful Fest: Pepper Fest Celebrates its 61st Year

North Hudson’s annual Pepper Fest brings the heat.
This year’s Pepper Fest royalty, clockwise from bottom left: Princesses Julia Pettee, Hunter Thompson and Emma Thole; Queen Jordan Loken and King Ken Merchak.

Launched in 1954 as a fundraiser for North Hudson Elementary School, the annual Pepper Festival has turned into a wildly successful event, complete with its own park. To this day, the festival runs thanks to a volunteer board of directors and contributes all proceeds to local organizations benefiting youth, schools and communities.

The festival kicks off as many Italian fests do: with food. All weekend, the main food tent will feature homemade Italian food including ravioli, spaghetti, stuffed peppers, pizza, Italian sausage and more. Friday’s lineup includes bingo, a beer garden, introduction of the royalty, and the Buck Tucker Band playing classic rock, contemporary and Southern rock.

On Saturday, work off Friday’s indulgence with a morning foot race or run, followed by the Grand Parade. Conscience clean, you can once more indulge in the delights of the food tent—and even continue your competitive streak with a good old-fashioned eating contest. If that’s not your style, listen to the band Rhino, featuring modern, alternative and ‘80s sounds.

Sunday ends with tractor pulls, the royalty coronation, a pepper cooking contest, and a concert by The Dweebs.