Friday, July 20, 2012

Ontario Garlic - Let the Festivals Begin

By my estimation, in the summer of 2011 I purchased 88 heads of garlic to get me through to the 2012 harvest. A harvest that is almost 3 weeks early this year, considering the unseasonably warm weather we have been experiencing here in Ontario.

I purchased my collection of garlic from 9 different farms across the province, mostly at farmers' markets and roadside stands. And there were 7 heads from my Roots and Shoots Farm CSA share baskets. It was dutifully stored in my cool dry basement, well spaced and with reasonable air circulation. It did very, very well up to the beginning of June. That is impressive, considering most of the bulbs were the hardneck porcelain Music variety, the most popular garlic grown in Ontario, but not the longest lasting.

Loving all things garlic, at the beginning of May I picked up Liz Primeau's latest book called In Pursuit of Garlic: An Intimate Look at the Divinely Odorous Bulb, released in the spring. Happily, Liz will be at most of the large Ontario festivals this year.

We are nearing that time when the Garlic Festivals are about to start. Here is a comprehensive list, and perhaps the most complete, of well-known Ontario garlic festivals and large sales.

The garlic at Silver Spring Farm will be going on sale Tuesday, July 24 at their location at 3501 Richmond Road (where Richmond meets Baseline Road on the edge of Bells Corners). Readers can call the Garlic Hotline at 613-569-8993 ext. 409 for updates. This is the 16th year for the annual 'Choose Your Own Garlic' fundraiser. Last year their 30 - 40,000 heads sold out in less than a week. ** UPDATE: The last of the garlic sold out on Sunday, August 5. **

The 15th annual Perth Garlic Festival will be held August 11 and 12 at the Perth Fairgrounds, starting at 9:00 am. Admission to the festival is $5.

  • Liz Primeau, author of 'In Pursuit of Garlic' will give a talk called Garlic Reborn at 9:30 am on Saturday and again at 10:00 am on Sunday. (I am re-reading her book right now!)
  • Lynn Ogryzlo, food and wine writer, and author of 'Niagara Cooks' and 'The Ontario Table' will also be there.


Also this weekend is the 13th annual Carp Farmers' Market Garlic Festival. It starts at 8 am on Saturday and 10 am on Sunday at the Carp Fairgrounds. It ends both days at 3 pm. Of the 100 vendors at their Farmers' Market, 30 will be selling garlic and garlic related products. Free admission and free parking.
HEADLINER: There will be Celebrity Chefs from Alice's Village Cafe, Bistro 54 and Juniper Kitchen and Wine Bar.

AUGUST 18 (Old Chelsea):
Marché Old Chelsea Market will celebrate its 2nd annual Garlic Festival, Saturday August 18. Although on the Quebec side, I included this festival since it is so close to me and many of my readers.

AUGUST 18 (Newmarket):
If you are interested in traveling further afield this summer, Newmarket's 'Garlic Is Great Festival' is on Saturday, August 18 from 8 am to 1 pm downtown on Doug Duncan Drive. Free admission. Rain or shine.

AUGUST 25 (Haliburton County):
The Haliburton County Garlic Growers are hold their 5th annual Garlic Fest on Saturday, August 25 located at Carnarvon Bowl at at Hwy 35 & Hwy 118 in Carnarvon. 9 am to 3 pm.

AUGUST 26 (Sudbury):
Sudbury has laid claim to the ORIGINAL Canadian Garlic Festival. This year is the 21st annual and their event will take place on Sunday, August 26th from Noon until 4 pm at 30 Notre Dame Ave, Hnatyshyn Park. It began in 1991 and it's a major source of fundraising for the Ukrainian Seniors Centre. No surprise that you will be able to get a taste of cabbage rolls and perogies. Admission is $2.

SEPTEMBER 1 (Verona):
6th Annual Verona Lions Garlic Festival will take place Saturday, September 1st from 9 am to 2 pm. Entry and parking are free. The event is being held at the Verona Lions Centre, 4504 Verona Sand Road, 20 minutes north of Kingston on Road 38. Since you are so close, consider heading to Seed to Sausage at 12821 Highway 38. Seed to Sausage is open from from 10 am to 5 pm on Saturdays.

SEPTEMBER 8 (North Bay):
New to the North Bay Farmers' Market this year will be a Garlic Festival on Saturday, September 8th. The market is on 200 McIntyre Street and runs from 8:30 am to 1 pm.

There are some who will say that the Stratford Garlic Festival is the best one in the province. I would love to attend and see if this rumour holds true! This year the 6th annual is being held Saturday, September 8th from 9 am to 4 pm and Sunday, September 9th from 10 am to 4 pm at the Old Stratford Fairgrounds, 20 Glastonbury Drive. Admission is $5 each day.

  • Garlic Chef Competition at noon on Sunday between Aaron Linley of Bijou (returning champion) and Yva Santini of Pazzo. I have dined at Bijou, so I totally get why Chef Linley is a force!
  • Liz Primeau, author of In Pursuit of Garlic will also be speaking at this Festival on both days.
  • Renowned chefs and cooking experts, Rose Murray, Elizabeth Baird and Emily Richards will be doing a cooking demonstration on the Saturday morning.
SEPTEMBER 15 (Niagara):
New this year, Niagara is holding their 1st annual garlic festival on Saturday, September 15 from 10 am to 7 pm at Busy Bee Gardens Lavender Farm, 758 Niagara Stone Road, Niagara-On-The-Lake.

OCTOBER 13 and 14 (Toronto):
Toronto had such success in their first year that their 2nd annual Toronto Garlic Festival will span two days. It is being held Saturday, October 13th starting at 1 pm and Sunday, October 14th starting at 9 am at the Evergreen Brick Works just north of Broadview Subway station at 550 Bayview Avenue. Admission is $10 each day (plus service charges).

  • Liz Primeau, author of In Pursuit of Garlic will also be speaking at this Festival at Noon on Sunday "Growing Great Garlic in the City".
  • The Toronto Garlic Festival has developed a Garlic Map using Google Maps, to identify locations for purchasing garlic right across the province. See here. Direct updates to
The 34th annual Gilroy Garlic Festival will be taking place next weekend, July 27, 28 and 29 in Gilroy, California. They say they host the largest garlic festival around.

Garlic can keep for up to 10 months if stored in a cool, dry, dark location. Do not refrigerate garlic.

Only hardneck garlic produces a scape, which needs to be removed approximately after the first curl is formed. This will allow energy to be directed to the bulb's development.

National Garlic Day is April 19.

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