The Highlight of the Festival for Some, Is the Food

Updated 2 years ago

There’s more than enough reasons why people pack the Bangor waterfront for the American Folk Festival every year. One of the main attractions is the food. Regulars at the folk festival are probably familiar with Jack’s Pickles and Relishes, but you probably don’t know that Jack’s owner, Johnny Kelley.”It’s a little spicy. That’s my recipe spicy bread and butter.”He makes his entire product line in a small room of his house in North Monmouth.”I have pickles, relishes, jams, jellies, marmalades. Spicy foods from hot pickles, hot relishes, hot jellies, to your more traditional strawberry rhubarb, blueberry and stuff like that.”It all began back in the early 90′s when, while working as a chef, his garden produced more zucchini than he knew what to do with. He made zucchini relish and gave it away as Christmas gifts. The relish was such a big hit it left everyone wanting more. By 1994 he was in business for himself.”People keep telling me it tastes just like their grandmothers, and that’s what I want to do, make it like their grandmothers.”Every one of his pickles is cut using this old fashioned pickle cutter commonly used in the 1920’s: given to him by his mother-in-law.”Works really good, cuts the cucumbers nice and clean. I tried using a processor but this is the best way. More labor intensive but it’s a better product.” These days you’ll find Johnny Kelley down here getting ready for his busy weekend on the Bangor waterfront.”This will all be all folk festival prep. Take me about 9 days to prep everything I need for it. So I’ll be prepping until I start packing the van and going I’ll be making stuff.”It’ll be the 8th American Folk Festival for Jack’s Gourmet Specialty Foods, and like his family 20 years ago, Johnny Kelley plans to leave festival goers wanting more.


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