The 21st Annual South Cariboo Garlic Festival is back.
On the shores of Lac La Hache from Aug. 26 to 27, attendees can experience homemade, homegrown, and artisanal vendors from local talent in and around the Cariboo region.
Organizers Nedeen Boon and Teresa Wager said there will be 90 vendors and 12 food trucks serving hot sauces, mushrooms, fresh vegetables and flowers, chocolates, homemade goods, and, most importantly, garlic.
“The pottery people are making garlic holders, the sewing people are making bags to store garlic. So there’s a lot of garlic incorporated into each booth,” said Wager.
The festival was started in 2000 by Gail and Steve Szolosi in Forest Grove until the Lac La Hache Community Club took over in 2010, where it has been held for the last 13 years with a two-year break during the pandemic.
Wager and Boon say they have had a fantastic system going, which has allowed for easier registration and the most vendors they have ever had.
Wager usually volunteers at the festival and, after retiring, was searching for a volunteer position. The previous organizer, Jeanette McCrae, had organized the festival for 12 years and was looking for someone to take over. Boon is a Lac La Hache local and wanted to provide her insight while getting more community involvement.
“I like hearing about people’s excitement,” said Boon. “It gets us excited that people are there supporting those vendors and people in the community.”
Attendees can expect handcrafted woodwork, pottery, fresh and dried mushrooms, clothing, crackers, chainsaw carvings, children’s books, handmade wooden toys, photography, hand-sewn goods, and who could forget all the garlic? The festival will have over 20 varieties of garlic, garlic braids, seed garlic, elephant garlic, fresh garlic salts and garlic powders.
“I am most excited about the food. There’s going to be amazing food choices from different ethnicities like Greek, Mexican, East Indian, you can go all around the world in the Garlic Festival,” said Boon.
Wager says the increase in vendors from 60 to 90 has to do with strategic planning that allowed for more space and a well-thought-out social media presence that has allowed them to pique the interest from all over the province.
“We really listened to feedback from previous years and were excited to make a few changes while ensuring the festival has the same community feel from previous years,” said Wager.
She added that there are far more elements added for kids, such as a dunk tank, a colouring contest and face painting. For entertainment, they have bands coming from across the Cariboo region. Play Music on the Porch Day is a worldwide event, and the South Cariboo Garlic Festival is registered to take part on Saturday. Wager and Boon say they are encouraging attendees to bring their acoustic instruments and jam with Tracy Lynn on the porch of the Heritage House.
If you’re interested in volunteering for the festival, there is still time. If you want to cool off from the summer heat, Wager and Boon are searching for more dunk tank recruits.
“We are still looking for volunteers and would love to have an ‘ask the expert’ booth regarding garlic, but we have been fortunate with the number of great people in the area who are volunteering to make this event successful,” said Wager.
This year Wager and Boon worked alongside the Ministry of Transportation, Williams Lake Traffic Management and the Lac La Hache Fire Department to create a traffic plan that works for everyone and keeps Highway 97 open and moving, making parking more simple.
“We’ve lost a lot, and there’s not much going on here anymore, and to lose the garlic festival would have been devastating … it’s been such a big part of the community … and I think that’s why we have such great volunteers because people really want to see it succeed,” said Wager.
To learn more about the event, how to get there, ticket prices, and what else to expect, you can go to www.garlicfestival.ca.