Vermont Business Magazine The Bennington Regional Chamber of Commerce welcomed over 16,300 visitors to the 2019 Southern Vermont Garlic and Herb Festival, smashing the previously recorded record for the festival of 15,000. This farmers’ market-style festival is known world-wide for it’s cascading rows of 200 plus garlic vendors, kids activities, food trucks, beer & wine garden, and regional live bands. It is considered to be one of the best garlic-themed festivals in the world by Reuters.
"Garlicfest would not happen if it were not for our tireless volunteers and captains. They provided over 2,000 hours of free labor in volunteer hours. We had over 150 volunteers throughout the prep week and then on the weekend that give back to this chamber and community. Garlicfest works because at its very core it is a labor of love for many people,” commented Matt Harrington, executive director of the Bennington Regional Chamber of Commerce, which organizes the “Garlicfest.”
Harrington said, “People come from all over and get to experience what small town pride Bennington has. We love hosting and providing over 200 vendors the opportunity to share their best products with over 16,000 people. Each year we attract people from as far away as Belgium, China, Texas, Alaska, as well as right here in the Tri State area. This past year the Southern Vermont Garlicfest was named "Top 10 All-Time Festival in the State of the Vermont" by the Vermont Chamber for our ten consecutive years of being named a Top 10 Festival in Vermont. We are humbled and honored and want to thank everyone for a safe, fun and stink'n good weekend!"
This year’s festival, now in its 24th year, was held at Camelot Village on Route 9 on Saturday, August 31 and Sunday, September 1 of Labor Day Weekend. Gates opened at 10 am each day and the festival closed at 5pm each day.
“I think what is also encouraging for our community is that based on our survey that we have attendees fill out, 76% say they plan to return to Bennington within the next 12 months in addition to Garlicfest! Garlicfest isn’t a once-a-year economic and marketing phenomenon. It has ripple effects throughout the rest of the year as we introduce that Shires of Vermont charm to the attendees during the festival,” Harrington stated.
“I want to especially thank my staff Mikaela Lewis, Erika Floriani and Barb Bluto for their year-long efforts internally to make Garlicfest work. A special thank you to Mikaela who was being ‘Garlicfest’ mentored by the late Lindy Lynch before she passed in early August. Mikaela stepped up huge and Lindy would be very proud of her! There is nothing better as a boss and director to see your staff grow, step up, show up, ready to go! I am beyond proud of them.”
When asked to sum up the weekend, Harrington replied, “I like the quote that we received from one of our survey participants that I think really sums up this year: 'Thank you for the visible police presence, it was comforting in the wake of the Gilroy Garlic Festival. We've been to the Saugerties festival a few times, and were blown away at the difference and at how well organized everything was. From the layout to the festival guide, wifi and availability of porta-potties, diversity and affordability of food options, live music and entertainment, we had so much fun!'"
Harrington finished, “Next year is number 25 for us, our Silver Anniversary! It will still be Labor Day Weekend, as it always has been. We hope to tweak a few things here and there, have a few more dignitaries here to celebrate with us, but people should continue to expect what has made this Garlicfest so successful – good ol’ fashioned teamwork and Vermont charm.”
Garlicfest is organized by the Bennington Regional Chamber of Commerce serving The Shires of Vermont.
Camelot Village is located on Route 9 in Bennington, Vermont.
For more information on next year’s festival visit www.LoveGarlic.com.