Published On: Mon, Feb 18th, 2013

Garlic Fest Draws Thousands

By: Darnesha McCray

It’s known as “The Best Stinkin’ Party in Town.” And while there was an abundance of music, food and beer, what stood out was the aroma of garlic that filled the air.

“Everything was so good I had to come back,” said Ryan Kogan, 13, who attended with friends (his second family) the first day but returned with his parents on the final day. “We enjoy it here. It’s a great place for any family to have an outing.”

At least 26,000 people or “garlic heads” as the fans are called, attended the 14th annual Garlic Fest, Feb. 8 to 10, on the grounds of the historic Old School Square, according to police and organizers. The gourmet food and entertainment event aims to bring the community together to have a good time and give back to those in need. The festival started as a way for nonprofits to raise money for education and the arts for young people. So far Delray Beach Arts Inc., has raised more than $400,000.

There was something for everyone to do and enjoy: tasty unique garlic dishes, fun rides, games, and several bands, including the Fort Lauderdale-based Jay Blues.

Along Gourmet Alley one could find everything garlic – garlic ice cream, Argentinian garlic BBQ and Garlic Fest crab cakes.

New this year was a kissing booth.

One of the highlights was the Garlic Chef cooking competition where top chefs from local restaurants vie for bragging rights. Food critiques also highlight the numerous health and culinary possibilities that garlic offers.
Organizers hope Garlic Fest will eventually be the premier food and entertainment event in South Florida.

“My inspiration came from the revitalization of Delray,” said Nancy Stewart- Franczak, the “Queen of Garlic” who spearheaded the event.

The city’s residents wanted festivals to go out to, to have a good time.”  So after a friend attended a Garlic Festival in New York, they decided to duplicate it in Delray Beach.

Festivalgoers were mesmerized by Bob Ross’ inventory of clocks that he made from actual album covers and the vinyl records. Each clock was made from seven combined records.

“Today has been a rocking show,” Ross, owner of “The Tunes” company, said of the festival.

Among the sea of exhibitors was Sensei Jeff Wilson who operates martial arts studios in Delray Beach and Boca Raton.

Wilson, 54, said his mother was his inspiration and his love of people motivated him to help people, ages 4 to 64.

The festival had its share of newcomers as well. Lucy Tipple, from Quebec, Canada, said she enjoyed the festival, especially since it did not rain and was not so hot.

She had one qualm though: “I think there should be more samples – free-bees,” the first-time visitor said.

Franczak said of the amount of garlic. “There’s thousands of pounds of garlic that go into Gourmet Alley,” the gantlet of food vendors, she said.

This year, several groups provide more than 500 volunteers and in exchange benefit from the festival:

Atlantic High Band Boosters, Atlantic High Eagle-ettes, Banyan Creek Elementary, Boynton Beach High, Boy Scout Troop 301, the Brookdale (College) Foundation, C.R.O.S. Ministries and Caring Kitchens/Community Food Pantry, Delray Beach Police Explorer Post 319, KOP, formerly Knights of Pythagoras Mentoring Network, Old School Square, S.D. Spady Elementary Montessori Magnet, Sister Cities, and Sunrise Kiwanis.

The show goes on rain or shine; a 100-foot tent will stand at the main stage at Old School Square.

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