Holy Horseradish

Independent/Holy Schmitt

Horseradish is the root of all things delicious this weekend as Riverhead celebrates the North Fork Horseradish Festival on Saturday, May 4, from 11 AM to 5 PM at Hallockville Museum Farm in Northville.

“Horseradish is a traditional crop on Long Island and its roots go back to Colonial times. But it really came into its own as waves of Eastern European immigrants started coming to the area in the early part of the 20th Century. These new immigrants used a lot of horseradish, especially for Easter recipes,” executive director of Hallockville, Herbert Strobel explained.

“It’s also worth noting that the root is central to Passover within the Jewish tradition. These religious and ethnic connections coupled with the fact that the root is usually one of the few crops harvested this time of year makes it a natural for an early spring celebration,” he added.

Back in 2012, Hallockville Farm served as the venue for a horseradish festival produced by an outside company but, alas, it didn’t return to the location. Heather Fitzgerald, sales and marketing for Holy Schmitt’s Horseradish, approached the museum a few years ago pitching another festival idea.

“I went to the one back in 2012 and I thought there was a really big turnout for it. I thought, why can’t we just do it ourselves?” Fitzgerald remembered, and her idea has fully sprouted into an all-day event sponsored by Holy Schmitt’s Horseradish. Schmitt’s Farms, also located in Riverhead, takes this spicy condiment beyond the traditional plates of Passover Seder or deli meats and turns it into a must-have ingredient.

Independent/Holy Schmitt

The mouth-watering flavors include Original, Cranberry, Beet, Mustard, BBQ, and Hot Pepper. The company will be sampling a new product called the Good Stuff made up of horseradish, turmeric, ginger, hot pepper, honey, and apple cider vinegar, all the essential ingredients to keep that immune system alive and kicking. While food and drinks will be pay as you go, all of this horseradish goodness will be complimentary. However, participating vendors will likely incorporate the horseradish as well, or pair it with their wine and craft beer, as Schmitt’s plans to feature its Bloody Mary mix and pickles, flavors that might even make the famous Katz Deli in New York City say “yes, yes, yes.”

Vendors, from both the North and South forks, include Amagansett Food Institute, Bridge Lane Wines, Farmer’s Kitchen, Goodale Farms, Homeslice, Little Creek Oysters, North Fork Brewing Co., North Fork Shack, Nupine Dairy, Pecks of Main, and Twin Forks Catering.

There will also be farm animals, and a root toss, providing fun for the whole family. Matt Schmitt, a fourth-generation farmer, using his grandfather’s original recipe, will be at the festival giving a talk on the history of the root vegetable on Long Island.

Tickets are $10 for adults, children under 12 are free. The rain date is Sunday, May 5. For tickets, visit www.hallockville.com.

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