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A Gregarious Gaggle of Garlic Growers – sprouting the Minnesota Garlic Festival

July 31, 2012

What surprised the organizers of the first Minnesota Garlic Festival was that people came – and continue to come in growing numbers. Sustainable Farming Association of MN (SFA) members Greg Reynolds, Jerry Ford and Marienne Krietlow ruminated over the idea of a festival that celebrated rural Minnesota, featured local food producers and other rural enterprises – and would not take place in the Twin Cities. They wanted it to be different from other festivals, with great food (not on a stick) and quirky entertainment. Why garlic? Several farmers in the area were growing it and it sounded like a good idea.

The 7th Annual Minnesota Garlic Festival is a family-friendly, down-to-earth, affordable event coming up on Saturday, August 11th at the McLeod County Fairgrounds in Hutchinson, MN.

Ford, the festival’s director, calls the annual event “edutainment”- a day where you can talk with farmers, learn from experts, eat great food and partake in fun and games for all ages. “It’s the most fun you can have and smell differently at the end of the day” quips Ford. (Try the garlic ice cream.)

Ford goes on to say that the festival is designed to demonstrate “the three pillars of SFA.”

MN Garlic Festival Director Jerry Ford & Garlic Princess

  1. Community – a place where local farmers have a social and economic community with other farmers and people who support what they do.
  2. Profitability – farmers and other local businesses can sell their goods in a large festival atmosphere. It may be the first time a vendor gains experience selling directly to a customer.
  3. Environment – a place where participants (including vendors) understand how they impact the environment – even when attending festivals. The festival is zero waste; all vendors are required to use compostable, re-usable or recyclable containers. Festival-goers will meet assistants throughout the fairgrounds to help them dispose of waste properly.

Celebrity Chef demos will take place throughout the day, and a profusion of food vendors – including the festival’s own Great Scape Café, will offer a unique mix of locally made eating options. A wine and beer tasting event is planned in the afternoon featuring locally crafted brews. A colorful roster of entertainment is scheduled to keep the festival lively and fun. (Don’t miss the Peculiar Pragmatic Promenade at 1:37 p.m.!)

Garlic growers returning to the festival say they come back because they know customers will come to buy their garlic and they’re learning about varieties those customers like. What could be better? People who grow garlic mingling with people who love to eat it.

The garlic festival is sponsored by the Crow River Chapter, Sustainable Farming Association of MN.

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