Mocksville’s Pickle Queen downs 9 dills to win contest

Published 1:44 pm Tuesday, May 2, 2023

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By Mike Barnhardt

Enterprise Record

Even before last Saturday, Joyel Miller of Mocksville was the “Pickle Queen.”

Her t-shirt said so.

And who other than the real Pickle Queen would travel nearly three hours to the Mt. Olive Pickle Festival with an entourage of some 15 supporters, all wearing “Pickle Squad” t-shirts?

Joyel Miller’s Pickle Squad in Mt. Olive.

And who other than the real Pickle Queen would bring home $100 and a big cucumber trophy for downing nine whole Mt. Olive Kosher Dill pickles in five minutes?

Joyel Miller would, that’s who.

And the reigning champion of the Mt. Olive Pickle Festival pickle eating contest is relishing in her glory, getting congratulations from family and friends, and interviews from several reporters.

Believe it or not, entering the contest was on her bucket list.

A life-long pickle lover, she attended the festival last year, while recovering from her second bout of breast cancer (She says she’s cancer free, now.). It was there she decided to enter the contest.

But you can’t just show up. Only 12 male and 12 female contestants are selected from applications sent in  more than a month before the contest.

“I just love pickles. I’ve always loved pickles,” she said. “I used to drink the pickle juice from pickles grandma had made. I’ll admit, grandma’s pickles were much better than Mt. Olive’s.”

Of course, she grows her own cucumbers and makes her own pickles. But that’s not enough, she said. She works at Unifi in Yadkinville and part-time at Big Lots in Mocksville. “That supports my pickle habit.”

Her favorite store-bought pickles are the Food Lion brand whole sour pickles. “Anything sour, I love it.”

Her husband Timmy agreed.

“When she was expecting our son, that’s the only thing she wanted was something sour … pickles, saurkraut, anything.”

And yes, her son, Jonathan, also loves pickles.

During the contest, she was the stoic contestant. While others made faces and puckered on each bite, Miller just went about her business, eating one pickle, then another.

“I probably could have eaten more if I had more time,” she said. “I knew I wouldn’t have any trouble getting them down. I don’t know if I could ever get full of pickles.”

Her husband nodded in agreement. “She was determined.”

Although she could hear the Pickle Squad cheering her on, she didn’t look up. After all, there were hundreds, maybe a thousand onlookers at the contest. “There were people as far as I could see.”

She didn’t “stretch” her stomach as did some other contestants. In fact, she ate her normal breakfast prior to the noon contest.

Her friends are encouraging her to quit with the title, but Miller says she’s considering to apply for the contest again next year. If she wants another title, she needs to get it soon because she has a “niece,” Patsy Gregory, who at age 2 can eat pickles like a champion.

“She’s going to break my record some day.”