BENNINGTON -- Trust us, it’s going to be worth the bad breath.
The 18th annual Southern Vermont Garlic and Herb Festival comes to Bennington this weekend, Saturday, Aug. 31, and Sunday, Sept. 1, courtesy of the Bennington Area Chamber of Commerce and the more than 180 corm-loving vendors.
"It’s a big one, it’s going to be really good," said chamber executive director Joann Erenhouse. "Bennington kind of reeks of garlic that whole weekend, it’s wonderful."
Garlic and herb lovers from all over are welcome to attend the festival, which has been hosted in Bennington for the last few years after moving from Wilmington. Last year the event drew close to 15,000 visitors over the course of the Labor Day Weekend and according to Erenhouse just as many -- if not more -- are expected this year.
"It’s growing by leaps and bounds every year," she said.
A fee of just $5 ($1 for children, two-day pass for $8) gets you access to a full day of music, food, alcoholic and non-alcoholic libations, and a wide variety of craft vendors.
"Everyone wants to try the garlic ice cream," Erenhouse said.
While the unusual ice cream may draw a lot of a attention, there will be plenty of more common garlic and herb treats available, including garlic jelly, pickled garlic, oils, herb soaps, roasted garlic, and garlic braids.
"(There are) garlic farmers, who bring in their garlic of all different shapes, kinds and flavors," Erenhouse said.
The festival has once again been named one of the top 10 events to visit in Vermont by the Vermont Chamber of Commerce. In 2010, Virtual Tourist named the festival one of the top 10 garlic festivals in the world, placing it among festivals such as Italy’s L’aglio di Voghiera, the U.K.’s Isle of Wight Garlic Festival and La Foire à l’ail Fumé d’Arleux in France.
Erenhouse mentioned that while attending the Hartford Summer Travel Show each year she was approached by fans of the festival.
"I can’t even tell you how many people came by and said ‘oh, I come to your garlic festival,’" she said.
Kids can check out a hay maze, inflatable fun jumps, Home Depot workshops and pie-eating contests.
Adults may not be allowed on the fun jumps, but they have the option of stopping by the beer tent and grabbing a beer or one of the festival’s signature garlic cocktails.
And of course there will be lots of live music, including performances by Greg Van Houten, Hill Hollow, local favorites Funk in the Trunk, Blues Sanctuary, Molly Durnin, Carma, Road House and the Jeff McRae Band.
Parking at the event is free, but be sure not to bring Fido with you as pets are not allowed at the festival. Erenhouse stressed that they want to make sure no one leaves their dogs in their cars. Because of the large size of the parking area, tractor-pulled shuttles will be going from the festival to the edges of the lot to transport people.
She thanked the Bennington County Sheriff’s office for the work they do managing the sudden glut of traffic the festival draws each year.
"We have wonderful volunteers who lay out the parking and Š make sure everyone’s safe," Erenhouse said.
The Bennington Rescue Squad will be on scene to help in case people get overheated or require other medical treatment.
Erenhouse said that while the festival is a great economic opportunity to the businesses involved, the festival is a huge boon for the entire local economy.
"Even though they’re here primarily for the garlic festival Š we hope they’ll stay the weekend," she said. "If you’re a business and you’re downtown, if your door is open you’re going to get business."
The festival runs both days from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Camelot Village in Bennington. For more information including a complete schedule of events visit www.lovegarlic.com.
Andrew Roiter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow him on Twitter @Banner_arts.