Onion Eating Contest

Onion Eating Contest Pine Island NY

Sunday, September 6, 2020, 4pm

About the Pine Island Onion Eating Contest
The Pine Island Chamber of Commerce held its twelfth annual Pine Island Onion Eating Contest on Sunday, Sept. 1, 2019 at the Polish Legion of American Veterans Pavilion at 4 p.m. The contest is in celebration of Pine Island’s 3,000 acres of hearty onions that are famous throughout America.

This event is held in cooperation with the annual Onion Festival featuring 18-time Grammy Award winner Jimmy Sturr and his Orchestra.

The winner receives a check for $100 from the Orange County Vegetable Growers Association and a plaque sponsored by the Orange County Farm Bureau.

Registration is limited to 12 contestants and pre-registration is required. Contestants may register by calling Russell Kowal at 258-4792 or any chamber officer. For advance tickets to the Onion Festival call 1-800-724-0727.

Emcee, Russell Kowall tells the Onion Festival Viewers about the Onion Eating Contest.
Some of the contestants get their onions ready.
Robert Gillespie, Center, 2017 Winner, is back for another try.
Ray Weslowski, 2018 and multi year winner in the past is serious about repeating.
Serious business...
2019 Winner, Robert Gillespie has his second big win.
Orange County Legislator, Paul Ruszkiewicz, presents a check for $100 from the Orange County Vegetable Growers to 2019 winner, Robert Gillespie. Pictured on the left is Town Councilman and event organizer, Russel Kowall. Pictured on the right, between Paul and Robert is Jimmy Sturr, host and sponsor of the Onion Festival.
State Senator, Jen Metzger and Assemblyman, Karl Brabenec present a State of New York Legislative Resolution proclaiming Wednesday, August 2019 as Onion Appreciation Day in the state of NY. Pictured from left to right are Janet Zimmerman, representing the Pine Island Chamber of Commerce, Russell Kowal, representing the Warwick Town Council and Paul Ruszkiewicz representing the Orange County Legislature. (Off camera to the right in the next picture is John J. Ruszkiewicz, representing Pine Island Onion Farmers.
Assemblyman Karl Brabenec, acknowledges John J. Ruszkiewicz, representing Pine Island Onion Farmers.

For more information on the Onion Eating Contest, email the Chamber

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Annual Social and Installation of Officers

Annual Social and Installation of Officers

Sadly, this Annual Event is Canceled for 2020. But we’ll be back in 2021, we hope!

The Pine Island Chamber of Commerce held its Installation of 2020-2021 Directors and Presentation of Awards Sunday, Oct. 25 at the Polish Legion of American Veterans, socially distanced and masked. The chamber was honored to have Judge Peter Barlet conduct the installation.

The installed directors and officers for 2020-2021 are: Susan McCosker, President; Janet Zimmerman, Vice President; Joseph Maggio, Treasurer; Gregory DeBuck, Secretary; Leonard DeBuck; Mena Messina-Genetti; John Redman; John Ruszkiewicz and Marsha Talbot.

The chamber did not honor a citizen of the year because of the pandemic, but did present a special recognition award to the Warwick Area Migrant Committee, distinguished service awards to Jeanette Shanahan and Leonard DeBuck, and three high school students with Youth Achievement Awards.

The Warwick Area Migrant Committee (WAMC) was honored as a long time lifeline for the farmworker community of Pine Island, Warwick and other neighboring towns. The WAMC has provided food, clothing, and numerous social services to our local workers for 60 years, and has run a children’s camp at Pine Island Elementary School.

The three students recognized were Paul Gagliano, Ellie Hanson and Yanelli Guttierez. They are all seniors at Warwick High School.

Paul Gagliano is a member of the All State orchestra and choir. He participates in a local theater group and is a volunteer musician for his church.

Ellie Hanson volunteers for the Girl Scouts and the community center. She has been an Espirit Award winner and has sung the National Anthem at public events. She is a member of the All-State choir and wind ensemble.

Yanelli Guttierez has been an important volunteer for several years with the Alamo Community Farmworker Center and the WAMC. This past summer, she worked closely with WAMC delivering meals to various farm camps in the area.

Attachment: Photo of the Installation of Officers swearing in ceremony. L to R: Judge Peter Barlet, Leonard DeBuck, Susan McCosker, Greg DeBuck, Marsha Talbot, John Redman, Janet Zimmerman, Joseph Maggio, John Ruszkiewicz, Mena Messina-Genetti (Photo by Renelle Lorray)

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Merchandise for Sale


“I Love Pine Island” T-Shirts

100% pre-shrunk cotton.
Available in adult sizes, in black or white – $15 ea
Children sizes available also in white – $8 ea

Email the Chamber

or call 845-258-1469 for details on ordering


Historic Pine Island Notecards

Boxed Set includes 12 Blank Cards,
12 Envelopes (size A2) – $15 ea
FOUR different scenes in each set.
Historic Pine Island School, Pine Island Train Station,
original Seely Hardware Store and
Webster’s Feed & Grain.

Email the Chamber

or call 845-258-1469 for details on ordering

Photo Coming Soon

Black Dirt Feast Aprons

Machine washable full front apron
imprinted withthe Pine Island Chamber’s
Black Dirt Feast logo – $20

Email the Chamber

or call 845-258-1469 for details on ordering

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Citizens of the Year

For their dedication to the community, Janet and Jerry Zimmerman will be honored as the 2018 Pine Island Citizens of the Year.

The awards will be presented at the Pine Island Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Social, which will be held this year on Sunday, Oct. 28, at 12:30 p.m. at the Landmark Inn, 526 Route 94 in Warwick.

Here’s how the chamber described their contributions to the community in the press release detailing the award:

“Janet and Jerry have relentlessly served the Pine Island community in many ways, often unnoticed and without hesitation. Always a welcoming neighbor and very involved throughout the town, they are often the friendly faces greeting guests at many of our Chamber’s events. Their work behind the scenes of the Black Dirt Feast and PumpkinFest has been instrumental to the success of both events. Together, Janet and Jerry are the first volunteers to arrive and work an event for the betterment of Pine Island, and they almost always are the last to leave.

“Both Janet and Jerry are retired school teachers, Janet from Elementary Education and Jerry from High School. Jerry originally taught English, but later learned and taught computer science. He was often sought after as a technology assistant to teach NY City municipal clerks and secretaries how to operate computer systems. Since their move to the Pine Island Community nearly twelve years ago, Jerry has publicized the Pine Island Chamber through E-newsletters, press releases, the posting of special events, and overseeing website updates. Janet also serves as the Chamber’s Vice President and Membership Chairperson. It’s very evident that both Janet and Jerry believe in community service and giving back.”

Distinguished Service Award
In addition, Fran Gallardo, a lifetime Pine Island resident and retired school social worker for BOCES, will be awarded the Pine Island Chamber of Commerce’s 2018 Distinguished Service Award.

For many years, she has been volunteering with children and events in the area such as PumpkinFest and the summer enrichment program for migrant children. She possesses many talents of which she teaches and displays to children as a coordinator of activities such as face painting, artful crafts, and sewing. She is always helpful and willing to serve her community.

Youth Achievement Awards
The Pine Island Chamber of Commerce will also recognize two high school students with the 2018 Youth Achievement Awards. Both are Pine Island residents who have shown exemplary service to their community, and commitment to their school.

Ava Ghobadian has been volunteering at Pine Island events, serves as Class President along with time spent in High School Senate, Homecoming Committee and Varsity Tennis. Ava is fascinated by microbiology and has undertaken a research project looking at soil micro bacteria and it’s benefits to the environment and to farmer’s crop yields.

Daniel Rodriguez is also committed to Pine Island as a volunteer at the annual Black Dirt Feast and as a camp counselor at Pine Island Summer Recreation. He is a student-athlete currently on the Warwick Valley Varsity Football Team.

The installation of the newly elected Board of Directors and Officers of the Chamber will also take place at the Chamber’s Annual Social. Tickets for the event are $30 and can be reserved by calling the Secretary at 845-258-2078 or via email chamber@pineislandny.com.

Past Recipients

1982 David Paffenroth
1983 Vincent Poloniak
1984 Alice Yanosh
1985 Vincent DeRosa
1986 Helen Yungman
1987 Vincent Kosuga
1988 Conrad Morgiewicz
1989 Elaine & Walter Greiner


1990 John Wydra
1991 Frances Sodrick
1992 Barbara Morgiewicz
1993 Theresa Bogdanski
1994 Stanley Schultz
1995 Leonard DeBuck
1996 Alice Gerczak
1997 Susan Wilk
1998 Paulette Wilk-Rudy
1999 Ted Purta
2000 Charles Lain
2001 Jane Hamburger
2002 Bruno & Diane Ferretti
2003 Susan D’Attolico-Kobiela
2004 Russell Kowal
2005 William Nolan
2006 Peter J. Groenendaal
2007 Cheryl Rogowski
2008 Bob and Sally Scheuermann
2009 Stanley Gurda
2010 Jeanie and John Reiley
2011 Tribute to Founding Members
2012 Dave Dudlo
2013 Richard Labanoski
2014 John J. Ruszkiewicz
2015 Kelly Lee Pikul
2016 Nancy Scheinert
2017 John Redman
2018 Janet and Jerry Zimmerman



For more information on the Pine Island Citizen of the Year and Youth Citizen of the Year Awards, email the Chamber

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Mixers and Socials

Annual Social:
As the Chamber’s biggest annual social event, the Annual Social features live music, hot and cold hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar. This event includes the installation of Chamber officers and presentations for the Chamber’s annual Citizen of the Year and Youth Achievement Awards. This event is open to all.
Click for details for this year.

Holiday Mixer:
In December, the Pine Island Chamber hosts and organizes a casual holiday mixer at a local eatery for the purpose of networking and holiday mingling. Open to all. Click for details for this year.

Spring Mixer:
The Pine Island Chamber hosts a mixer each spring at a local restaurant or business to provide an opportunity to network and socialize with fellow members, friends and guests. Open to all.

Click here for Pine Island Chamber of Commerce Event Calendar.

Check the Pine Island Chamber website and Facebook page regularly for details and updates on events!
For information, email the Chamber.


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