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South Cariboo Garlic Festival draws big crowds

The annual event enjoyed smoke free blue skies last weekend

Thousands attended the 2023 South Cariboo Garlic Festival for a stinking good time.

With clear skies and plenty of volunteers, rookie garlic festival co-organizers Teresa Wager and Nedeen Boon couldn’t have asked for a better first year. Looking out across the festival grounds north of Lac La Hache on Saturday, Wager was all smiles.

“All the vendors and food trucks seem super happy, the petting zoo was an overwhelming success and I see tons of garlic coming out of here, it’s just fantastic,” Wager said. “People are in such a positive mood and everything has gone our way, I think.”

This year the festival boasted close to 120 different vendors both local and from the rest of B.C. They sold garlic, fresh produce, semi-precious stones, woodwork, clothing and ceramics, to name a few.

Gnomemad’s Cathy Steigleder was one of those local vendors. Steigleder specializes in making cute and colourful gnomes out of socks, rice and various dollar-store items. She remarked this was her first time attending the garlic festival and it didn’t disappoint.

“It’s amazing. The people who have set it up have been fantastic, the volunteers are awesome and there’s lots of traffic going through,” Steigleder said. “There’s over 120 vendors and they’re all artisan vendors. It’s amazing to think how many artisans there are in this community. I’m having a wonderful time.”

For the festival, Steigleder made some special garlic-themed gnomes with garlic print hats and wheelbarrows full of garlic. She added she definitely intends to return next year, given the chance.

Garlic farmer Karen Froess, of the Greenhouse at Pumpkin Junction, also enjoyed his first time at the festival as a vendor. Froess said it was as good, if not better, than similar festivals he has attended in the past.

“I’m barefoot, the people have all been really friendly, the weather has been great and it’s just busy and friendly which is what every vendor wants,” Froess said.

One of the most popular attractions on Saturday was the 100 Mile District Hospice Palliative Care Society’s dunk tank. Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Lorne Doerkson spent several hours getting dropped in the water by his constituents, all with a big smile on his face.

“We’re raising funds for hospice today in a dunk tank and it’s been very busy today, a lot of fun. I’m not sure how much we’ve raised but it’s been very steady all day,” Doerkson said. “There’s a lot of people here who have been loving the chance to dunk their MLA.”

Joking he had the “best seat” in the festival, Doerkson said the garlic festival is one of the premier events in British Columbia. After drying off he was looking forward to getting some food and wandering around the festival.

Wager said despite how many people showed up, her team of 50 volunteers was able to direct traffic on Highway 97 and ensure there were no parking issues. She was very proud and thankful for everyone who helped make the festival happen this year.

“It was amazing. It was a little bit overwhelming to see everyone so happy and positive. I didn’t receive any negative comment,” Wager remarked. “It’s been really good, better than what I had hoped for.

“The garlic festival is the one thing I’ve always loved for the 13 years it’s been here. It’s a staple of Lac La Hache and the South Cariboo and I’m just so grateful to everyone who came out and supported us.”

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Patrick Davies

About the Author: Patrick Davies

An avid lover of theatre, media, and the arts in all its forms, I've enjoyed building my professional reputation in 100 Mile House.
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