For 16 years, residents of the town of Andrew have gathered to celebrate the stinking rose — and every year, more and more visitors join them.
“It’s just grown tremendously,” said Carri Hrehorets, president of the Andrew Agricultural Society in the village of 400 located an hour’s drive northeast of Edmonton.
“We get about 1,000 to 1,200 people out for the day.”
The Andrew Garlic Festival, held on the second Saturday in October, doesn’t just showcase garlic, it also celebrates the village’s Ukrainian heritage.
“Garlic has been known to be linked to Ukrainians and cooking, growing and gardens,” she said.
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The agricultural society and its seven members have run the festival for the past five years. There are local garlic growers and a huge farmers’ market with 80 vendors, as well as items such as garlic popcorn, cooked cloves, dips and garlic beans. The evening banquet has a Ukrainian theme, centred around the garlic dishes.
Other events include a garlic-peeling contest, a bench show, local entertainment featuring fiddlers and Ukrainian dancers, a dance party and scavenger hunt, and numerous kids’ activities.
The local chamber of commerce started the event after hearing about the success of the Smoky Lake Pumpkin Festival.
“Originally our festival was just a basic little farmers’ market and bench show display. I think it started with 20 people showing up that first year,” said Hrehorets.
But word spread far and wide, and it now attracts visitors from across Alberta and even neighbouring provinces.
The agricultural society operates the volunteer-run arena in Andrew, and some of the funds collected during the garlic festival go to its maintenance.
“The garlic festival is just one of the events we do to put funds back into the building,” said Hrehorets.