Photos Courtesy of Southwestern Vermont Chamber & Lorianna Weathers Photography
Vermont Business Magazine On Saturday, September 3rd Bennington, Vermont will once again transform into “Garlic Town, USA” in celebration of all things garlic and agriculture! Garlic Town, USA, formerly known as the award-winning Southern Vermont Garlic & Herb Festival and produced by the Southwestern Vermont Chamber of Commerce, announced that the downtown festival would return to Bennington on Labor Day Weekend this year.
Bennington has become world-renowned for its annual garlic events held every year on Labor Day weekend. The town’s garlic events have been recognized as one of the top 10 garlic festivals in the world by Reuters, featured in Yankee Magazine, awarded Vermont’s Time-Honored Top 10 Fall Event and has consecutively been the Bennington Banner’s and Manchester Journal’s Reader’s Choice for Best Event in the Region. Their website has titled the event “Vermont’s biggest family farmers’ market.”
Last year’s event saw over 8,000 visitors and residents stroll around downtown Bennington with garlic and food vendors, sidewalk sales, tractor rides and more. Additionally, an estimated $100,000 was spent by Garlic Town attendees in downtown Bennington in one day creating a big economic surge for the “mom-and-pop” shops following the Covid pandemic.
Large areas of fenced in property to host the event, or what the organizers call “Cloves,” will be located at the former Greenberg Lot located at 321 Main Street (Clove A) and the former Bennington Station at 150 Depot Street (Clove B). The former Tuttle Lot (113 Depot Street) will host tickets and sales, the Garlic Town USA merchandise shop, and volunteer support.
Attendees must purchase a ticket in order to enter either Clove all day long. Tickets can be purchased online ahead of time at www.GarlicTownUSA.com. Once attendees arrive they will have their ticket scanned and be given a wristband to get into the event all day long. There will be tickets for sale at the event including credit and cash options. Depot Street and Washington Avenue will be closed to traffic during the event.
Always a staple at Garlic Town, USA are the vendors from around the Northeast. This year the Chamber’s Event Manager, Mikaela Lewis, says there will be over 125 vendors at the event. “Last year we saw about 90 vendors at Garlic Town, USA. This year attendees should expect a lot more,” noted Lewis. “We’ve added a lot more food trucks including newcomers Anon’s Thai Cuisine, The Mac Factor, Zagers Taqueria, and The Rolling Rooster. Crowd favorites are also returning including Sherri’s Crab Cake, Lemon Love, Mach’s Wood Fired Pizza, Reggae Boy Cafe, and Hungry Traveler to name a few!”
“Additionally, we’re welcoming back long-time vendors such as Buried Treasures Organic Farm, Rolling Rock Salt, Arlotta Food Studio, Caledonia Spirits makers of Barr Hill liquors, Fortuna’s Sausage Company, Highland Farm, MarJean Organic Garlic and many, many more. Garlic Town, USA wouldn’t be anything without our wonderful garlic growers and other vendors who have joined our festival for many years!”
There, of course, will be plenty of garlic to go around including over a dozen garlic growers with many varieties available to sample and purchase throughout the festival.
For a full list and map of vendors visit www.GarlicTownUSA.com
Bands and Bar
The event will also welcome back two additions that are sure to please the crowds. Bands and bars. Two stages are set up, one in each Clove, and will have live performances all day alternating on each stage. Starting the festival off is 2018 Bennington County’s Got Talent winner Bubba Lou Tugget at 10am at Clove A, followed by the Bennington Traditional Jazz Band at 11am at Clove B. For the lunch time hour Moose Crossing will be playing at Clove A at 12pm, followed by The Julie Shea Band at 1pm at Clove B. Finishing out the festival Beth and Randy from Whiskey City will be at 2:30pm on Clove A and Beard and Glasses will close out the afternoon at 3:30pm at Clove B.
The Beer and Cocktail Garlic Bar also returns. This year, like many in the past, will have Ramunto’s Pizza managing the bar. The bar will include local drafts, iconic Vermont IPAs, Garlic Bloody Marys, and Garlic Margaritas, as well as a full bar to make the perfect end of summer drink.
102.7 WEQX will also have a remote station for the morning hours with local DJ and host Joy Proft helping to celebrate and highlight the event.
Parking and Transportation
With the amount of attendees planned, organizers have utilized parking lots outside of downtown to manage the amount of travelers coming to Bennington. Patrons of the event are strongly encouraged to park in the Ocean State Job Lot at 99 Bennington Square, Grace Christian School Lot at 104 Kocher Drive, and the State Building and Chamber of Commerce at 100 Veterans Memorial Drive.
“We have partnered again with the amazing staff at Green Mountain Express and have doubled our fleet of transportation vehicles from last year. They will transport from all parking lots to downtown and the festival locations. They will be running all day long and are free to patrons and residents,” indicated Lewis. “We will also have more hay wagon rides to transport people back and forth from downtown to the Cloves too.”
Downtown merchants have been encouraged to set up their shop outside of their storefront and encourage visitors throughout the day to shop with great sales and discounts. Restaurants and dining establishments will also have specials all day including garlic bar specials.
This year event organizers are partnering with couch + cork to provide a new element to the festival. In year’s past, vendor demonstrations have always been a highlight of the event. This year the organizers welcome local chef Cara Thatch who will be hosting cooking demonstrations throughout the day, such as “What Grows Together Goes Together”, a series of compound garlic butter recipes that feature various local herbs and spices to complement each of the Vermont seasons. Additionally, at the “Demo Tent,” located in the center of Clove B (Bennington Station Lot – 150 Depot Street), there will be a magic show with Doug Eash in the morning from 11am-12pm, followed by additional cooking demos, cocktail making demos, and a garlic ice cream demo throughout the afternoon. For the full Demo Tent schedule please visit the Garlic Town, USA website.
Garlic Town, USA requires over 100 volunteers throughout the week leading up and the day of. “We simply couldn’t do it without our ‘tie-dye army,’” says Erika Floriani, membership manager at the Chamber and Volunteer Captain. “We call them the tie-dye army because we equip them with awesome tie-dye volunteer shirts for the day so they stand out in the crowd and patrons know a volunteer when they see one. Our volunteers help with set up and break down, parking assistance, ticket check in, gate monitoring, vendor support, info booth, merchandise sales, kids activities, waste removal and just about everything else. We still do have spots open for volunteers. This is a great way to meet your neighbors, help the community, gain leadership skills and you get to come to the event for free!”
Garlic Town, USA volunteers will also receive lunch, and other perks. Kick-off Training Night, sponsored by Ramunto’s Pizza, will be on Thursday, September at 5:30pm at the Greenberg Lot (Clove A). To sign up to be a volunteer go to: www.Garlictownusa.com/stinkin-volunteers/
Garlic Town, USA couldn’t happen without sponsors. The Premier Sponsors this year for the event are Coggins Auto Group and The Bank of Bennington. Additionally this year, the event organizers asked many small businesses and nonprofits to support the event through smaller sponsorships. At the current moment the organizers would like to thank: couch + cork, Matte Olive, the Bennington Banner, Four Chimneys Inn, Crescent Manor, Maple Leaf Realty, Mahar McCarthy Real Estate, Wells Builders, The Inn at Manchester, William C. Deveneau ESQ PLC, The Barn at Center Hill, Greater Heights, Vermont Veterans’ Home, Southwestern Vermont Medical Center, and The Richards Group.
For updated information please visit the new website www.GarlicTownUSA.com which highlights vendors, tickets, bands, bars, history and more. Visitors will be able to easily find the vendors they are looking for through the search function and map layout on the website. The website was created by Matte Olive.
Garlic Town, USA celebrates produce vendors, craft, artisans, and the spirit of Garlic Fest throughout downtown Bennington, Vermont.
(Bennington, VT) – Southwestern Vermont Chamber of Commerce swvtchamber.com