Long Ireland hosts ‘the original’ Riverhead horseradish party

George McDowell of Mattituck takes his turn grinding the horseradish roots grimacing as it stings his eyes. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch photos)

George McDowell of Mattituck takes his turn grinding the horseradish roots grimacing as it stings his eyes. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch photos)

The North Fork’s “official” horseradish bash might still be a fews weeks away, but old school Riverhead residents knew where to find the original party on Wednesday afternoon.

Bobby Bugdin, one of the three Horseradish Party organizers, said that he stopped counting the people who showed up for the event at 100 guests. The annual informal and unadvertised free event was started around 1970 by then Suffolk County District Attorney Peter Danowski and local journalists Art Penny and Don Smith. It started in Art Penny’s backyard and later moved to Richard and June O’Dea’s barn on Herrick’s Lane. A few years later it was moved to a larger barn at Martha Clara Vineyard, at the courtesy of owner Robert Entenmann.

This year the organizers, Doug Adams, Bobby Bugdin and John Taggart were contacted by the owners of Long Ireland Beer Company to move it to their property in Polish Town. Bugdin, the owner of American Tent Company in Riverhead, set up tents, tables and chairs.

“Some years we didn’t think we would find a way to have it because it had grown so large,” Bugdin said.

The attendees bring their own jars and volunteers spend several hours peeling 20 bushels of the giant root, whirring it in food processors and meat grinders and mixing them with vinegar and lemon juice. All the food, beer, liquor, kielbasa, smoked pork, clams, burgers and desserts are donated.

The private event went from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesday.

The second annual North Fork Horseradish Festival, which is hosted by Starfish Junctions, is coming to Long Ireland Beer Co. in Riverhead on Sunday, April 19. For more information on that event visit nofohorseradishfest.com.

See more photos from the event below.

Peeled horseradish roots, ready to be ground.

Peeled horseradish roots, ready to be ground.

Doug Adams grinding the root as Bobby Bugdin (left) cuts it up.

Doug Adams grinding the root as Bob Bugdin (left) cuts it up.

Hard at work (from left) are Jim Creighton, Ginny Taylor, Wes Slivonik and Zenon Czujko.

Hard at work (from left) are Jim Creighton, Ginny Taylor, Wes Slivonik and Zenon Czujko.

Greg Meyers of Wading River lowers pork and roast beef on to the barbecue coals.

Greg Meyers of Wading River lowers pork and roast beef on to the barbecue coals.

Gnarly, unpeeled horseradish roots.

Gnarly, unpeeled horseradish roots.

Cousins Dottie Bugdin and Connie Stelzer.

Cousins Dottie Bugdin and Connie Stelzer.

The Horseradish Party on the grounds of the Long Ireland Beer Company in Polish Town.

The Horseradish Party on the grounds of the Long Ireland Beer Company in Polish Town.

The all American bar.

The all American bar.

Tom Kruel of Flanders filled up a jar of horseradish for a guest.

Tom Kruel of Flanders filled up a jar of horseradish for a guest.

Greg Meyers of Wading River cuts up some kielbasa to put on the grill.

Greg Meyers of Wading River cuts up some kielbasa to put on the grill.

Eating, drinking, talking and peeling. A good time was had by all.

Eating, drinking, talking and peeling. A good time was had by all.

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