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A tradition lives on after all: Riverhead’s horseradish party returns to its homegrown roots

horseradish party lives on

Riverhead’s horseradish party tradition lives on.

After Pete Danowski, one of the original organizers of the local spring suaree, bowed out this year, seeming to end a tradition of more than 40 years running, his younger cousin, Bobby Bugdin, decided he just couldn’t let the tradition die.

Bugdin, who’s been helping Danowski with the event, hosted a scaled-back version of the party in his family’s spacious Aquebogue backyard yesterday. About 100 people showed up to peel, chop, grate and pickle the horseradish — and enjoy an outdoor picnic. It was an invitation-only event, Bugdin said, because the party had just grown too big the past few years.

“Last year, it just got out of control,” Bugdin said. Danowski told RiverheadLOCAL earlier this month there were more than 400 people at the party last year, which was held in a barn at Martha Clara Vineyards, as it had been for the past several years.

The annual horseradish party has been held on the Wednesday before Easter since at least 1970, when two local reporters, Art Penny and Don Smith, started the tradition in Penny’s backyard, Danowski said.

“I’d like to see this tradition make 50 years, or even more,” Bugdin said yesterday.

Yesterday’s party was much mellower than the party had become in the past few years. Though Bugdin said he plans to host a larger event next year, he wants to make sure the tradition stays grounded in its homegrown Riverhead roots.

 

RiverheadLOCAL photos by Peter Blasl

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Peter Blasl
Peter Blasl is an award-winning photographer and newshound who chases breaking news when he's not busy selling ads for the LOCAL websites. He’s a lifelong Riverhead resident, nature-lover and avid fisherman Email Peter