There’s something stinky in the city of Hutchinson. That’s because the Minnesota Garlic Festival is rolling into town with oddball fun for everyone 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 10, at the McLeod County Fairgrounds.
Hosted by the Crow River Sustainable Farming Association Chapter, the festival is known for its renowned garlic and variety of foods presented, as well as live music and other garlic-related vendors.
Admission is $5 for adults and free for children 12 or younger. Parking is $1. Per tradition, the first bulb is to be thrown out during the opening ceremony at 10 a.m.
The festival is upholding many previous crowd favorites.
“Everything old is new again,” said Jerry Ford, the festival’s director. “What we’ve been doing works, and when you have a really good formula, you don’t want to mess with it too much.”
But with old comes new, too, and visitors will see some noticeable changes.
Ford said this year they are partnering with Crow River Winery for all the wine served at the festival. They’ll also be serving garlic infused bloody marys with their garlic wine.
“How appropriate is it that the only winery in Minnesota that makes garlic wine is right here in Hutchinson?” Ford said.
“It’s part of the festival’s mission to support rural communities, so anything we can do to support Hutchinson we’re going to do it,” Ford added.
You can also purchase your own souvenir wine glass that has the Garlic Festival logo, and reuse it for refills throughout the day.
Foodies can unite over the collection of new foods to sample. Celebrating all things garlic, visitors have the chance to taste garlic ice cream courtesy of Minnesota Nice Cream of Minneapolis. It’s not just a simple scoop, either. You can enjoy your garlic ice cream in a garlic waffle cone.
“That one gets the most attention,” Ford said.
Included with the assortment of garlic food are garlic-chip cookies, garlic beer bread and garlic cheddar cheese, to name a few.
“Most of the time, you would never think to put garlic with these foods, but on Garlic Festival day, garlic-chip cookies sound good,” said Ford.
Chefs will be serving up delicious foods presented throughout many staged demonstrations. This year, there will be open-fire cooking. Ford said there will be a large area of various fire basins where visitors will be able to see the cooking in action.
There is also the annual garlic growers contest. Blue ribbons are awarded to the best in show, smallest heads, and a prize for the biggest heads in 10 categories of garlic. Winners get the ultimate prize of bragging rights. Ford said that in the past there’s been as many as 90 entries.
You don’t have to be a professional gardener, either. Many times, it’s the home gardeners who take home the prize, Ford said.
The Great Scape Cafe is open 11 a.m.-4 p.m, where you can view a full menu of food being cooked during stage demonstrations, and then get a chance to taste what has been prepared.
Narrens live music and more
Another part of the fun is the entertainment at the festival. A fan favorite is the New Ulm Narren, a goofy group of masked performers who greet and hang out with visitors as part of an old german tradition.
“I don’t think we’d be able to have the festival without them,” said Ford. “They’re just so much fun”.
New to the festival this year is the walking, 9-foot-tall Gertie the Garlic Ball, who will serve as the new mascot for the festival and a photo opportunity.
Steve Russell, a juggler and comedian who has performed on TV shows such as The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, is also new.
“We’ve been trying to get him for over three years,” said Ford.
Along with the street entertainers, there is live music played throughout the day from groups such as the Flamenco Mateo, The Preludes to a Blizzard, and the Light of the Moon Band.
Visitors are encouraged to participate in the Peculiar Pragmatic Promenade, a parade where visitors can be their most interesting selves. You’ll be able to stomp around the fairgrounds alongside the many performers of the festival. Prizes are awarded at the end of the route for most peculiar, most pragmatic and best promenade.
Children are invited to the kids tent where they will find many things to do. The reigning favorite activity is the kite making. Kids of all ages assemble and build their own kite, lead by Dave Herzig, former president of the Minnesota Kite Society. There is also a space to fly your finished kite.
If you’re feeling competitive, there are three festival medallions up for hunting throughout the day. While searching, visitors can dive in and explore everything the festival has to offer.
Besides the food and entertainment, what sets this event apart from others is that it is 100 percent sustainable, and zero waste is left behind when the event is finished, which promotes the mission of the Sustainable Farming Association.
“I like to say that sometimes we trick people into learning about sustainability, because it is such a fun festival” Ford said. “I love it when I get surprised by what happens at the festival.”