MYSTIC, Conn. — Garlic fudge. Parmesan garlic french fries. Garlic Italian lemon ice. These are just a few of the delicacies awaiting visitors at the yearly tribute to the bulbous flowering plant at Olde Mistick Village, a Colonial-era-themed open-air shopping and dining center. Jim Holley, the owner of the Village’s Franklin’s General Store and The Boardwalk, has produced the festival for the past 14 years and says that although last year was pared down because of COVID-19, this year’s event will be back to its usual size, with more than 40 vendors, crafters, authors, and artists participating. In addition to garlic, attendees can purchase fresh produce, herbs, jams, syrups, honey, and crafts, and enjoy garlic-themes foods and “non-garlic favorites” at restaurants and food stalls. “The Pie Ladies” of the North Stonington Congregational Church are one of the most popular participating local nonprofits. In addition to offering a wide variety of traditional pies like apple, strawberry rhubarb, and cherry, they’ll also sell a special savory tomato garlic pie. Throughout the Village, local bands and musicians will line the walkways entertaining attendees.
Fifteen garlic farmers will participate this year, including Don “The Garlic Guy” of Lindon Garlic Farm in Gilmanton, N.H., who has attended the festival since 2014. It’s one of his favorite yearly events, in part because of the “perfect” venue: “It’s great for people to be there amongst all those shops. . . It’s so conducive to everybody feeling very jovial and getting out and enjoying themselves.” Given that October is garlic-planting month, many attendees come to buy planting seed stock for their gardens. This year, Lindon Garlic Farm will offer German White and Russian Red Garlic varieties.
Olde Mistick Village has seen higher traffic in 2021 than it has in 50 years, and Holley expects this year’s festival attendance to exceed the pre-COVID record of 20,000. He says, “it’s a great community event. It allows people to enjoy the open space . . . and lots of great music. [It’s] like a simpler time.”
A portion of the festival’s proceeds will be donated to Always Home, a nonprofit that helps prevent family homelessness in eastern Connecticut.
The event takes place Sept. 18-19, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Olde Mistick Village, 27 Coogan Blvd., Mystic, Conn. There’s free entry and parking. Oldemistickvillage.com. The festival will abide by all Connecticut guidelines regarding COVID-19 at the time of the event.