Got a mint for the festival that stinks?

By Cal Scannell

Be sure to bring along a tin of Altoids to this weekend’s Garlic and Arts Festival which has been described as “the festival that stinks.” The event, currently in its 10th year, is a quaint country gathering of local farmers, craftsmen, vendors and vampire haters.

The festival is the brainchild of Ricky Baruc, a farmer from Orange, Mass. While harvesting garlic one day and lamenting the lack of retail outlets for the fantastic fruit of the earth, he came up with the idea of holding an event to celebrate the marvelous cloves and provide farmers with an opportunity to sell their stinky crop. He soon broadened his vision to include all the local farmers, artists and craftspeople who had to travel long distances to markets and galleries in order to sell their goods. With the help of neighboring farmers, he hosted the event in its first year at his Seeds of Solidarity farm in 1999.

Though the event has moved down the road to a bigger space capable of accommodating the large volume of garlic-lovers in the area, Baruc and other founding farmers are still closely involved in the festival. Currently supported by the Seeds of Solidarity Center for Education, a non-profit organization, the event draws volunteers of all ages from the community.

Their combined efforts have helped to preserve the original spirit of the festival. According to the Garlic and Arts mission statement, the event aims to celebrate “the artistic, agricultural and cultural bounty of the region and unite North Quabbin people whose livelihoods are connected to the land and the arts.” The festival invites people “to experience the richness of an area that is often overlooked” and “emphasizes what is homegrown and high quality, as well as what helps preserve and support the environment.”

Festival goers can expect to find local and often organic produce from area farms. You can also look forward to many garlic-infused offerings from nearby restaurants including Bueno y Sano’s roasted garlic burritos and the North Quabbin Men for Missions’ garlic cheese fries.

While munching on their stinky dishes, visitors can watch local musicians on the main stage performing anything from jazz to folk to soul and funk. Garlic lovers can also check out the renewable energy tent and various sustainable energy exhibits from local organizations. Other local groups will be putting on healing arts, cooking and agricultural demonstrations.

Artist booths will feature a range of goods, including silver work, hand-woven cloths, jewelry, reproduced antique maps, glass work, paintings, woodwork, dolls, knit-items and homemade soaps, just to name a few.

The Festival will take place this weekend, Oct. 3 and 4 at Forsters Farm, 60 Chestnut Hill Road in Orange, Mass. from 10 a.m to 5 p.m. Admission is $5 for guests over 12 years old, or adults may purchase a weekend pass for $8.

Cal Scannell can be reached at [email protected].