Matt Harrington and Mikaela Lewis: Thanks for a great Garlic Town, USA event

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Bennington, thank you for a great weekend and for your hospitality at our Garlic Town, USA event last Saturday.

Over 30 vendors (garlic growers and others) joined us to celebrate what would have been our traditional Garlic Festival weekend! Knowing we couldn't do anything to that scale with COVID, we worked with the Town of Bennington and the Better Bennington Corporation to do a modified, more downtown, more spread out event.

And, it worked! We had over 2,000 people join us for a mile-wide, relaxed and safely-spaced event! The feedback has been tremendously positive from vendors and patrons alike!

Vendor Daren Carrol of Graden Talun Farm said this: "I hope you will pass along our gratitude to the rest of the folks involved, the Chamber, volunteers, etc, because it was a great event. Not every festival organization watches out for or thinks of its vendors like you guys did."

Vendor Tony & Darby of Rolling Rock Farm sent us an email afterwards, "Let's just start with AWESOME for the fabulous event you all created. Let's continue with one of my favorite words and use it in a wonderful way: UNBELIEVABLE!! Thank you soooo much! What a nice time and great day. I think everybody did well and it was a shot in the arm/soul and pocketbook we all needed. Your volunteers rock!! And YOU, the organization, communication and guidance was so over the top! Thank you ever so much."

And, perhaps more simply put by Northeast Corner Herb Farm and Penny Sandora, "Hallelujah!"

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We hope this gave our vendors, our downtown merchants and community a boost — not just financially, but emotionally — this past weekend.

An event like the one on Saturday doesn't just happen. It takes months to plan and organize. We are extremely grateful for the Town of Bennington and specifically Shannon Barsotti, as well as The Better Bennington Corporation and John Shannahan and Bill Clark. We came to them with an idea and they let us run with it and helped. We can't say enough about how Bennington showed up for this event.

Additionally, this event doesn't take place without volunteers. We especially want to thank Will Gardner who usually produces our Home Brew Festivals, who stepped in to help. Between the chamber staff, town staff, BBC staff and Will — we felt like we had a dream team of event captains!

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We want to thank the volunteers including Kelly Clarke, Kelsey Dueland, Ed Barbeau, Patty Surdam, Dane Whitman, Sylvia Pike, Kevin Lynch, T.R. Paquin and his daughter, Laura Hain, George Krawczyk, Nancy Koziol, Brian Maggiotto, Rep. Mary Morrissey, Art Whitman, Alex Figueroa, Beth Anne Stuebe, Camille Kauffman, Pia Dechamps, Jesse Peters, Mission City Church and Andre-Anne Chenaille.

A special thank you to Matt Willey and his crew at Ramuntos, as well as Kris and Wendy Callaert and their crew at The Dutchman's Tavern for being the two "tent poles" of the event drawing people in with music, games, food and drink specials.

Thank you to the Bennington Police Department. We appreciate your presence on bikes and in vehicles ensuring safety. Thank you to Dr. Trey Dobson, chief medical officer at Southwestern Vermont Medical Center, and Ray Smith of SVMC for constantly giving us advice and feedback when we were planning this event.

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Thank you to the many, many merchants and restaurants that showed up to welcome residents and travelers into Bennington. We want to especially thank Beth Dow of The Beyond Gallery for hosting the official Garlic Town, USA coloring contest, as well as Frank and Sarah Santacroce of Bennington Sports and Graphics for providing the official Garlic Town, USA T-shirt.

This was not a money-maker or fundraiser for any of the organizing partners as we didn't charge for tickets, parking, merchandise or vendor space. We wanted to do this for Bennington to boost the morale of Bennington. However, events take money and we want to thank the following for their sponsorships: our presenting sponsor West Oil out of North Adams, Mass. Also, The Bank of Bennington, Ramunto's Pizza, The Inn at Manchester, Shires Young Professionals, The Bennington Banner, couch + cork, People's Bank and Uncle Bob's Septic Services.

Most of all, thank you Bennington for coming out, showing off the best of Bennington hospitality. We hope you had fun. We hope you felt safe. We hope you had a moment to be thankful for where we live and the community that makes it worthwhile.

Until next year

Keep Vermont Stinky.

Matt Harrington and Mikaela Lewis are the producers of Garlic Town, USA.


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