Wednesday, 22 September 2010
A Visit to the Stratford Garlic Festival
We started our wild weekend of dissipation with visit to the Stratford Garlic Festival. Admission was $5 to the old Stratford fairgrounds, where there were 2 alleys of booths set up, with a tent at either end for demonstrations.
We could have bought some corn cooked by a wild old steam engine.
There were a couple of potters; this one had brought large number of garlic storage jars.
There are more people out there making processed garlic products in Ontario than I would have thought. This display was from The Garlic Box. Some interesting looking things there...
I took a lot of pictures because there were so many interesting booths, but what we really gravitated to were the people selling garlic, so those are the pictures I'm posting. We got very excited at this booth and went away with a couple heads each of "Bogatyr", "Anne's Italian Softneck" which has unusual extra bulbs or bulbils on the stem just above the main head, "Fish Lake #1" (from the legendary Ted Maczka originally, so a piece of Canadian garlic history), Ferganskij (originally from Uzbekistan), Tibetan, and Portugal, a variety from the Azores. We've already planted the seed garlic saved from this years crop, as well as a whole bunch of bulbils collected from an abandoned farm garden that we found last month. We're going to have garlic coming out our ears.
More garlic, in tied bunches this time.
A number of farmers brought other vegetables besides garlic. This was a rather spectacular display of winter squash from August's Harvest, who also had plenty of garlic. And Ancho and Anaheim chiles! (Actually, the Anchos are really Poblanos since they are fresh, not dried.) I've never seen locally-grown southwestern style chiles for sale before, so I was quite excited and bought a big bag of each. Turns out the lead hand at August's is a Mexican Mennonite who insists on growing them... way to go, guy!
Why yes; more garlic.
With all that garlic around, you have to stand out of the crowd somehow, and I must say these were probably the largest heads of garlic I have ever seen. Big Ass Garlic is located in Dorset, Ontario. Is it those minerally northern(ish) soils that make them so big? Or is it the variety?
Garlic lovers are often chile lovers too, so The Crazy Pepper was a great booth to have at a garlic festival. Actually, just about every booth was something fascinating and worth spending time at (and money, if we'd had any!)
We also sat in briefly on some demonstrations in the big tents; one on roasting garlic and one on making garlic braids. In both cases, we arrived in time to be so far at the back of the crowd as to make seeing anything impossible, although the sound systems were very good and we could hear everything perfectly well.
Overall, it was a very pleasant afternoon and well worth going. The festival is not quite over; there will be a "Garlic Dining Experience" happening today. Don't rush out looking for tickets though. It's been sold out for days, at least. Look on the bright side - this is such a successful event, I'm sure it will be happening again next year.