Crowds Flock to Vermont Garlic Festival

By Jen ThomasPrint | Email
Susan Conway of Mud Road Farm created this peace sign from garlic bulbs.
BENNINGTON, Vt. - As part of their orientation, Williams College freshmen James Allison and Alex Mendels had a chance to get a taste of Vermont this weekend. "Well, they make great use of garlic," said Mendels, 18, of Yorktown, N.Y. "It’s very creative." On Saturday, the two teenagers experienced the 12th annual Southern Vermont Garlic and Herb Festival as part of a school-sponsored ‘First Days’ trip to Bennington. Held for the first time in town, the festival to celebrate the July harvest of garlic kicked off to an unprecedented number of attendees. "The crowd just [Saturday] is double anything we’ve ever done on our best day," said Steven Wrathall, who organizes the event every year with his wife, Joy Powell. "That’s twice as many people having fun." With crowd projections for the two-day event set at 12,000 to 14,000 people, the 50 vendors set up at Colgate Park on Route 9 will have an opportunity to show off their unique wares - everything from garlic-flavored ice cream and fudge to pottery constructed to hold garlic. "We have so many different vendors - food, clothing, crafts - but we like to keep the theme of garlic and herbs," said Wrathall. Formerly held in Wilmington, Vt., the festival attracts garlic-lovers from across New England and New York. With restaurants, wineries, craftsmen, herbalists, and farmers represented at the weekend event, there’s something for everyone. "This event has a huge following," said JoAnn Erenhouse, director of the Bennington Chamber of Commerce. "Here in Vermont, we’re very into fresh foods and growing our own foods, so this seems like a natural event for us." Featured at this year’s festival is live music, inflatable bounce houses for children, free samples, face painting, braiding demonstrations and "garlic golf," in which participants attempt to sink a hole in one using a bulb of garlic. "[The festival] is bigger and better than ever," Erenhouse said. Admission is $5 for adults; children 12 and under get in for $1. The festival will continue today, Sept. 2, and runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Colgate Park is at 1545 Route 9, 1.5 miles west of the four corners in Bennington.
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