Offering Participants Something Surprising and New
By Belle Crawford
Garlic isn’t just for making really great salsa and scaring away vampires. It is an extremely versatile and nutritious bulb worthy of its very own festival. The fourth annual WNC Garlic Fest will take place on Saturday, October 7, from 12–6 p.m. at the new retail location of seed company Sow True Seed in Asheville. This year the festival anticipates between 30 and 40 local vendors, most of whom will be participating in the WNC Garlic Trail, a group of booths offering free samples and garlicky giveaways as well as opportunities to win raffle prizes provided by local businesses.
“The Garlic Trail is the activity that everyone gets super excited about,” says Chris Smith, Sow True Seed’s marketing and communications manager and one of the creators of Garlic Fest. “It is a true celebration of garlic. There will be garlic mushrooms, garlic salt, garlic hummus, traditional aioli, garlic elixir, garlic butter, garlic popcorn, garlic cookies, garlic beer, garlic jun, garlic pickles and honey garlic.”
Garlic Fest began in 2014 after a discussion between Sow True Seed employees about ways to improve educational opportunities for the public about growing garlic. The team decided to host garlic growing workshops, and almost everyone got swept away by what became a party dedicated to the pungent, spicy bulb.
“Now in its fourth year, we are expecting the event to be bigger than ever,” says Smith. Why the success? “Because there are a lot of garlic fanatics out there and this is a celebration of all things garlic.”
This year Michael Rayburn of Rayburn Farm is bringing his farm-grown purple popcorn and will be popping it at the festival for participants to try. Rayburn’s popcorn will be served with garlic butter made by another local grower, Root Bottom Farm.
“This is our third year in a row going to Garlic Fest,” says Morgan Decker, owner of Root Bottom Farm. “We sell our popular garlic sampler that includes 12 of our 14 varieties. The Great Bulbs of Fire sampler showcases our spicy and hot varieties. We also sell our garlic butter and I Love Garlic buttons and stickers.”
Garlic Fest is also a celebration of local food and local businesses. Back again this year is The Hop Ice Cream Café with their surprisingly delicious garlic ice cream and Asheville Tea Company with a special garlic tea. “We’re also excited to be printing a WNC Garlic Fest t-shirt for the first time this year,” says Smith.
“This is a fun festival for anyone who loves garlic,” says Decker. “Or for anyone who wants to explore all the crazy possibilities garlic has to offer.”
Sow True Seed is located on 243 Haywood Street in Asheville. Garlic Fest is free to attend and the use of breath mints is encouraged. For more information about WNC Garlic Fest, see wncgarlicfest.com or call 828.254.0708.