For the Love of Garlic – Wander Over to Maynooth for the Garlic Festival

Video by Sean Buk, photos and writing by Michelle Annette Tremblay

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.

Garlic, garlic, GARLIC!!!!

“The Maynooth Market is a fantastic market any day,” says Kat Stevens of Moonshadow Designs, “but this is an extra special day of course.”

Sweet garlic treats by The Chocolate Harlot

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.

Garlic art by Wendy Shefjella

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.

Garlic lovers gather at the Maynooth Garlic Festival

“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!





Wandering Through the Special Madness of Maynooth

Video by Sean Buk. Photos and story by Michelle Annette Tremblay.

There’s a certain kind of madness that gets under your skin when you spend time in Maynooth. The small town has become a magnet of sorts for artists and dreamers, attracting a small but steady trickle of city-folk who are what the kids call ‘woke.’

“I’m very, very fortunate to be an artist here,” says Ren Lonechild, as he chills in the shade outside Wildewood Gallery. Inside, his paintings of ravens, dancers, turtles and the vast night sky are on display, with numerous other stunning works by talented local artists like Henry Melissa Gordon, and Freddie Towe. It is the Labour Day long weekend, and Maynooth is bursting at the seams.

Local artist Ren Lonechild chats about being an artist in Maynooth

“It’s the 29th annual Maynooth Madness,” explains festival organizer, Joey Shulman. He has been involved from the very beginning, and has watched people return to the madness year after year.

It’s not uncommon for a town to have some sort of homecoming weekend, which is what Maynooth Madness is in a sense: an opportunity for people to come together and celebrate the harvest, life in their community, friendships, art, heritage, and the passing of the seasons. But Maynooth Madness has an undercurrent that you won’t find anywhere else.

Fresh local produce at the market

“Over the years it developed two monikers,” says Shulman. “People would either say, are you going to the loggers games, or they’d just say, are you going to the madness? They wouldn’t even have to name the location… Nowhere else has the madness.”

So what is the madness? What’s so special about Maynooth? What’s so woke about this little scenic village?

It can be summed up in one word. Authenticity.

The streets of Maynooth don’t fill up every labour day weekend because of any big corporate sponsors, or big budget tourism strategies. The vendors are not the same old franchises that you see at various festivals across the province. Oh no. This festival has grown out of three decades of love. Love for art. Love for homesteading. Love for hobby farming. Love for music. Love for community. It depends on countless volunteer hours, donations, careful planning, and a shared burning love for village life.

Lakehouse on the Run gourmet food truck serves up great meals in Hastings Highlands

John Foreman, a well-respected old-timer in the area, plays his penny whistle and sings old shanty songs as he demonstrates authentic hand hewing of logs with a broad axe. A crowd of people wander over to listen to his stories, toes tapping. There are no animatronics or rides, or line-ups. Just people sharing stories, enjoying good food, taking their time, and enjoying the day. It’s the perfect festival for a wanderer. The whole downtown strip comes alive with horse-drawn carriage rides, a formidable farmers market with over 40 vendors, live music, kids activities, a car show, and so much food. And it feels like everyone knows each other. Even if they just met for the first time yesterday.

Master canoe builder Chuck Commanda of the Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg First Nation demonstrates his skills

“I’ve never been in a community like this before,” says Lonechild. “It’s got a nice vibe, and everybody jives really well. All the artists get together and compare notes. We praise each other and congratulate each other when we sell work.”

Perhaps it’s the physical beauty of Maynooth, located less than an hour from famed Algonquin Provincial Park; or maybe it’s the low cost of real estate and low cost of living, that attracts so many artists and homesteaders. Or maybe, the rockhounds are right, and it’s crystal magic. Whatever it is that attracts you to Maynooth, you’re not alone. There is a madness here. A glorious madness that puts people above profit, and peace above progress.

Local musicians sharing songs

“Certainly over the last 30 years here, I just continue to be in awe of how much talent there is here,” says Shulman. “Musically, visual artists, writers, poets, designers… It’s a very expressive community. And it’s thriving.”

Do you feel the madness within you? Mark your calendar for the 30th Annual Maynooth Madness next Labour Day Long weekend. Learn more at