Related: 40x40 List
Dates completed: Saturday, August 15
Minnesota Garlic Festival
While searching for a small town festival on the Explore Minnesota website (thanks for the tip, Sara!), I was delighted to find the 10th Annual Minnesota Garlic Festival. I've wanted to attend a garlic festival since working at Grinnell College's Career Development Office as they had a cool Gilroy Garlic Festival poster in the bathroom. I love it when I realize how random things have made an impression on me!
Held at the McLeod County Fairgrounds in Hutchinson, the festival had everything I was hoping for and more: good food, dancing, a parade, and crowds of people sweating out all the garlic they ate in 90° heat and humidity.
With a population 13,871, I consider Hutchinson a small town though it is more than twice the size of my hometown, Sheldon, Iowa. Hutch, as the locals call it, has a cute downtown and a couple of lakes that looked inviting on such a hot day.
Garlic in its many forms
We planned our arrival to the festival around noon so we could enjoy lunch at The Great Scape Cafe. This year's menu was prepared by many of my favorite Twin Cities restaurants. Scott and I shared the roasted garlic (Common Roots Cafe), salami sandwich (Red Table), and vegetarian pizza slice (Red Wagon Pizza). Scott washed all that garlicky goodness down with a Minnesota craft beer out of a commemorative 10th Anniversary festival beer glass which is now hanging out with the hundreds of other beer event glassware in our home.
Fifteen different Garlic Growers were selling their fresh crop and frankly I had now idea how to decide who to support with a purchase. I choose Hillside Prairie Gardens mostly because of their garlic display but I must have also sensed that they were the only grower from South Dakota. I guess always want to make my mom and dad proud by supporting their state!
While visiting the vendors, we bought Smude's Sunflower Oil (garlic and pepper infused), a package of Cool Jerk beef jerky, and tasted many samples thanks to the generosity of the local companies.
Before leaving the Commercial Building, we both indulged in the garlic ice cream.
The Peculiar Pragmatic Promenade
The highlight of the event for me was the parade which started at 1:37 p.m. They actually had me at the start time (and the title). Led by the Minneapolis Police Pipe Band, the parade had one float, dancers and musicians from The Wild Goose Chase Cloggers, characters from Narren of New Ulm, and my personal favorite - The Brass Messengers.
Perhaps next year I'll try to win one of the prizes for a peculiar act or costume in the categories of "Most Peculiar", "Most Pragmatic", or "Best Promenader."
I would also try my luck at the Medallion Hunt and seek out the "Holy Clove" because as the program states "Clove Hunters: The few, the proud, the stinky!".
As if you can't tell from this recap, I will return to the Minnesota Garlic Festival and hope to one day make it to some other garlic festivals (worldwide!).
I also think that going to a festival every season would be a fun way to usher in all the flavors and smells associated with each. This fall, I am going to try to make it to Smaczne Jablka (otherwise known as Apple Day) in Winona.
The Nivens Family