The North Quabbin Garlic & Arts Festival is returning to an in-person format in a couple of weeks, after two years of deviating from the norm to keep people as safe as possible during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The all-volunteer organizing committee has laboriously planned the outdoor event slated for Oct. 1 and 2, and the group has opted for the slogan, “24 and Back For More.” Organizers decided to include the previous two festivals in the overall tally because the events were held, in some fashion, for the community’s enjoyment and benefit.
“I think a big theme for this year is inspiration for a hopeful future,” festival committee member Deb Habib said. She also mentioned the fact that the committee remained intact throughout a global pandemic “is significant in itself.”
The event at 60 Chestnut Hill Road consists of two days of entertainment and garlic-centric family activities. There will be tutorials as well as at least 80 food and craft vendors, horse-drawn hay rides, a spoken word stage and face painting. There will also be the “Portal to the Future” and an electric-vehicle tent in addition to the Garden of Peace and Non-Violence. The Portal to the Future, located in the lower North field, is billed as an area highlighting ways that “art, food, small-scale farming, renewable energy, smart transportation, care for the land, and hand skills all contribute to community- building and local resilience.” It showcases what the future can and should look like if it was more locally sourced.
Habib described the Garden of Peace and Non-Violence as “more of like a public art piece” and “kind of a reflective spot.”
“There’s a lot to be grateful for and a lot to aspire towards,” she said.
The festival manifested from a conversation between Habib’s husband, Ricky Baruc, and his friend Jim Fountain in 1998. Baruc mentioned there were not many places to sell the garlic he grew on his farm and Fountain, a woodworker, said the same was true for art. . In pre-COVID times, the event averaged about 10,000 people per weekend.
The first festival was held in 1999 at the Seeds of Solidarity Farm, which proved too small. So Orange resident Dorothy Forster, who enjoyed the festival, offered up her property, which once held a dairy farm her father ran from 1926 to 1941. Forster told the Greenfield Recorder she is thrilled the event – known as “The Festival That Stinks” – is returning to its in-person format.
“It’s very exciting,” she said, adding that she loves seeing people, especially children, having such a wonderful time.
Forster explained she inherited the land around 1970. She said she considers sharing the land part of her responsibility for the privilege of owning it.
“I made a little covenant with God, (that) if I could keep the farm, He would help me be able to afford it,” she said.
Her property spans 128 acres and all but 10 of them are under a conservation easement.
Organizers in 2020 decided to hold a virtual event to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. The festival announced a new YouTube channel (bit.ly/3d4zMYo) and an expanded website featuring more than 120 original and archived videos to come as close as possible to the in-person experience. Last year, out of an abundance of caution against the rise of Delta variant cases, the event consisted of a free pop-up marketplace rather than the full slate of festivities.
This year’s event will be held rain or shine, from 10 am to 5 pm both days. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students, senior citizens and EBT cardholders. Anyone 12 and under can attend for free. A Saturday admission will get you in on Sunday, too. Cash and credit, debit, or EBT cards are accepted at the entrance gates. Tickets can be purchased at bit.ly/3SknL4B. Daily event schedules and a field map are available through bit.ly/3xzVW0b.
Parking is free, but limited. On-site parking is for accessible tags and carpools of three or more, and there is a free nearby shuttle lot for all others. No pets, except for service dogs, are allowed.
More information can be found at garlicandarts.org.
Reach Domenic Poli at: [email protected] or 413-772-0261, ext. 262.