The 20th annual South Cariboo Garlic Festival is set to spice up Lac la Hache with two days of stinkin’ fun for the whole family on August 24 and 25.
“It’s a ‘you should not miss’ event,” said festival organizer Jeanette McCrea. “There’s so much going on.”
The event will feature an illusionist, Sparkles the Clown, Maverick Farms’ Petting Zoo and pony rides, and much more.
“I believe this is our 11th year [in Lac la Hache],” said McCrea. “I don’t know where the time’s gone.”
The festival was originally held in Forest Grove, but nobody in 100 Mile House or any other area wanted to take it on, so McCrea stepped up. Previously, during the time it took place in Forest Grove, the festival’s founder Gail Szolosi actually held the event in her own backyard.
The Garlic Festival was held there for a few years, before it eventually moved on to Centennial Park, where Szolosi said it was held for “probably three years.”
“It was already going [on in Forest Grove] so the Lac la Hache Community Club,” recalled McCrea. “We said we would do it, and I’ve been organizing it ever since.”
For those who have never attended, McCrea said there is lots to enjoy at the event, including garlic, vegetables, seasonings, artisans and live entertainment for both adults and children.
McCrea has taken measures to make the festival more age-friendly this year, by installing benches along the vendor aisles so that there are a variety of places for people to stop and take a seat during their time on the grounds.
“We do have handicap parking as well, and there’s highway traffic control,” she added.
The festival has grown substantially over the years, she said. Normally, there are around 70 booths featured, but this year, McCrea has already booked 90 booths for the two-day event.
“I’m going to credit it to probably people getting the word out, vendors telling other vendors. I’ve gotten a lot of response back from that.”
It’s hard to count the number of people who attend each year, McCrea explained, as guests only have to pay for admission the first day of the event, and are allowed to come back without paying again on the second day.
“We don’t count any kids or anything either, but we roughly get around 3000 to 3500 paying [to attend].”
Over the course of two days, McCrea guesses that around 4500 visitors of all ages pass through the festival gates.
With more vendors at this year’s Garlic Festival, she anticipates an even greater turnout, especially taking into account the absence of wildfire smoke, which was prevalent in the area during the past two summers.
McCrea’s daughter usually volunteers as the festival’s mascot, Garlina, but this is the first year she will be unable to attend. The original costume came from the Forest Grove location, but this year Garlina will wear a new hat, and a new volunteer will wear the costume.
“I think it’s going to be an awesome year this year. There’s some entertainment that I’m looking forward to seeing.”
The OM Sound is one band that will perform at the event for the first time. They reached out to McCrea during their cross-country Canadian tour and she is excited to see them perform in the South Cariboo.
“They must have heard about us from somewhere,” she said, noting that any vendors or performers who participate in the fest have always reached out to her. “That’s the only way I do things. If you want to be in the Garlic Festival, then you contact me, I don’t contact you.”
She said that is the easiest way to organize the event and ensures that those who participate want to be there.
McCrea is responsible for the organization of the entire event. She gets things done herself before calling on volunteers to help out. Last year she even had volunteers come from Prince George, and some will return this year.
Nonetheless, McCrea is still seeking volunteers within the community to help out with the festival. Any individuals who are interested in that opportunity can contact McCrea by phone anytime after 5 p.m. at 250-706-8566.
The Garlic Festival starts at 9 a.m. both days, but ends at 5 p.m. on August 24 and finishes at 4 p.m. on August 25. Admission is $5 for adults and covers both days of the event, while children 12 years old and under attend for free. There is free day parking at the grounds for all vehicles, including RVs, but overnight parking is prohibited.
For the comfort and safety of everyone, the festival strictly enforces a “no pets” policy on its grounds.