Sunday, September 21, 2008

Garlic & Arts Festival

Yesterday I took an opportunity presented by a glorious early autumn September Saturday and headed off to make a visit to the "Festival that Stinks!" aka The Garlic & Arts Festival in Orange, just up 202. This year was the festival's 10th year, and it looks to be going strong -- at least two parking fields were full and there were loads of people meandering around enjoying the sights and smells and sounds of the festival. The mission of the G&A Festival is to promote local culture, local artistry, and local agriculture -- especially garlic, which is a strong crop in the region and part of why the whole festival got started.

Booths offered beautiful hand-carved wooden bowls, local honey, pottery, pickles, old local and regional maps, framed art, wool and yarn and hand-crafted sweaters and blankets, toys, jewelry, local natural medicinals, massages, farm produce, and of course, braids and braids and braids and bulbs and bulbs and bulbs of garlic -- including demos on how to plant and grow it.

There was music and a bandstand and plenty to eat, as well -- breads and soups, meat on skewers, pad thai, burritos, strawberry shortcakes, and of course -- garlic ice cream (created by Bart's Homemade Ice Cream). Oh -- and a hula hoop field for anyone who wanted to try swinging one of those hoops around their waste (or neck or knees).

When I first heard about it, I couldn't believe there was a festival dedicated to garlic, but after an hour and a few visits to garlic-bearing booths, I began to get a better understanding. With its inexpensive admission prices and relaxed atmosphere, this festival is a great chance to spend a day outside in the beautiful Connecticut River Valley while sampling some of the region's local fare.

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