It’s the festival you can smell a block away. Live music snakes through the crisp morning air as people greet each other with hugs, and share their mutual appreciation of nature’s great antibiotic. A vampire hunter casually says hello and assures you there are absolutely no undead in the vicinity. To your left the dancing garlic man strums his ukulele and sings about soup. To your right, someone is devouring a garlic sausage roll. Everyone is smiling. No one has fresh breath (and for once, that’s a good thing). You guessed it, you’re at the Maynooth Garlic Festival. Now an annual event, the Garlic Festival is sponsored by the Bancroft Area Stewardship Council, and takes place each August at the Maynooth Farmers Market.
“The Maynooth Market is a fantastic market any day,” says Kat Stevens of Moonshadow Designs, “but this is an extra special day of course.”
She is set up for the festival, selling garlic themed jewellery. Around her, other vendors offer all manner of garlicky items, from savoury baked goods, preserves, crafts and decor, to pottery, art, and of course lots and lots of fresh garlic of all different varieties. There are even garlic sweets, like garlic flavoured ice cream, gourmet black garlic chocolate, and garlic cookies. Shoppers stroll from table to table, pausing for a snack or to listen to the Bad Breath Blues Band.
Displayed inside the community centre, you’ll find garlic themed art, including a beautiful silk painting of garlic scapes curling up into the night sky, and a darling hand-woven garlic headdress. There are other regular market goods on display, too, such as farm fresh produce, crafts, soaps, candles, and maple syrup. But today, the focus is on that versatile, delicious, aromatic, treat. Garlic. In all its glory.
You might be surprised at how many people have come together to share their love of garlic, but then again, you’re in Maynooth. Known for its creative economy and hippie vibe, the small village just south of Algonquin Park boasts a groovy little downtown area mostly comprised of curios shops, cafes and art galleries. The historic Arlington Pub doubles as a hostel, and has live entertainment every weekend. There’s also a small grocery, a state-of-the-art library, an LCBO, and gas station. It’s an idyllic little village. But the real magic of Maynooth is found in its people. Artists, homesteaders, farmers – these are the people of Maynooth. It’s rural enough that people have space and solitude when they want it, but friendly and connected enough that there’s never a shortage of companionship or things to do. It’s one of the most engaged and supportive communities you’ll ever see.
“There’s a crazy number of people here,” says Christine Hass of Memories Bakery and Tea Room. She brought lots of garlic sausage rolls, garlic scones, and garlic Cornish Pasties. But they sold out mid-way through the festival. “We’ve got nothing left. Next year we’ll have to bake double!”
And next year we’ll have to bring a few more friends, to share the awesomeness that is the Maynooth Garlic Festival! The Maynooth Market runs from June until mid-October, on Saturdays from 8 am until 1 pm. It’s best to arrive early before everything is sold out. Follow the Maynooth Farmers Market, the Bancroft Area Stewardship Council and the Maynooth and Hastings Highlands Business Association on Facebook to stay informed about upcoming events, including the annual Garlic Festival.
See you in Maynooth!