Everything you need to know about this year’s ‘Garlic Town, USA’ celebration in Bennington, Vt. | Local News

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BENNINGTON, Vt. — On Saturday, Sept. 2, Bennington, Vt., will embrace its title of “Garlic Town, USA” once again.

This renowned celebration of garlic and agriculture, previously the award-winning Southern Vermont Garlic & Herb Festival, is brought to life by the Southwestern Vermont Chamber of Commerce with presenting sponsor M&T Bank.

Year after year on Labor Day weekend, Bennington becomes a global spotlight for garlic enthusiasts. Acknowledgments include listings among Thrillist.com, The Travel, features in Yankee Magazine, Vermont’s Time-Honored Top 10 Fall Event and consecutive accolades as the Best Event in the Region by the Bennington Banner and Manchester Journal. The official website dubs it as “Vermont’s biggest family farmers market.”

In 2022, over 7,500 participants flooded downtown Bennington for the agricultural event. The local businesses experienced an economic boost, with an estimated $140,000 spent in one day.

“It’s always a magical experience seeing Bennington transform into ‘Garlic Town, USA‘ every year,” said Matt Harrington, executive director of the Southwestern Vermont Chamber of Commerce and producer of the festival. “The spirit of the community, the commitment of our vendors, volunteers and sponsors, and the enthusiasm of thousands of attendees is a testament to the lasting charm and importance of this event. In 2023, we aim to create an even more memorable celebration for all garlic and agriculture enthusiasts.”

“Every year, as we plan Garlic Town, USA, it’s not just about celebrating garlic or the vendors, but it’s about creating an atmosphere where community, culture, and commerce merge,” added Mikaela Lewis, event manager of the Southwestern Vermont Chamber of Commerce and co-producer of the festival. 

Event layout

The festival spreads across fenced properties or “Cloves.” Major sites include:

  • Clove A: Former Tuttle Lot at 113 Depot St. now including Village Garage Distillery
  • Clove B: Former Bennington Station at 150 Depot St. including People’s Park
  • Depot Street: Ticketing, Merchandise, and Information Support

Discounted tickets are available at www.GarlicTownUSA.com until the gates open at 10 a.m. (gates close at 5 p.m.). Tickets grant access to the event all day and re-entry for both Cloves. 

Tickets purchased the day of Garlic Town will be available during the festival for cash and credit card sales at the ticketing tent on Depot Street. Online tickets will be available all day as well. Family passes, senior discounts and veteran discounts are also available. Attendees must have a wristband to enter any part of the festival.

The festival program, with maps and vendor highlights — provided by Vermont News & Media — will be available in the Banner the Thursday prior to the event (Aug. 31), as well as at the Clove gates.

Vendors

With over 125 vendors, Lewis assures a curated and diverse mix of products and foods — including garlic growers and produce farmers, specialty packaged food and drinks, wares and crafts, jewelry, pottery, clothing, artwork and much more.

Food trucks

Both Cloves will feature trucks with a mix of cuisines — including Jamaican, Mexican and Mediterranean dishes — as well as traditional festival favorites, many with garlic-centric options available. There will also be plenty of sweet treats and desserts, as well as fresh-squeezed lemonades and crafted specialty drinks.

Music

Two stages promise a day of continuous music and entertainment. Village Garage Distillery, a small batch craft distillery and restaurant located at 107 Depot St., will be “Stage A,” featuring Carly Rogers, Whiskey West and The McGuinness Brothers. “Stage B,” this year named “The Jim Woodward Tribute Stage” in honor of the late local music man, will be couched in People’s Park and will include GVH & Cindy Baxter, Kitchen Sync with Julie Shea, Buck2Fifty and Made In The Shade.

Bar

Next to each stage will be bar setups that will be stocked full of Vermont beers on tap, wines, mixed drinks, as well as Garlic Town’s famous garlic margaritas and garlic bloody marys. The Village Garage Distillery will be providing the bar in Clove A and Ramunto’s will be providing the bar in Clove B.

Transportation

Given the expected crowd, the following free designated parking areas outside downtown are advised:

  • Ocean State Job Lot at 99 Bennington Square.
  • Grace Christian School Lot at 104 Kocher Drive.
  • State Building and Chamber of Commerce at 100 Veterans Memorial Drive.

Volunteers will be at each parking lot to assist in parking, as well as to scan any pre-purchased tickets online for quick access to the festival. Green Mountain Express will provide free transportation from the external parking lots to the event. Tractor rides will also be available, making stops at the Walgreens parking lot at 194 North St., the Merchants Park and Splash Pad, and School Street for access onto Main Street.

Entertainment, chef demonstrations and kids activities

Back by popular demand is the Entertainment, Demonstrations & Kids Activity Tent in the middle of Clove B. Features at this year’s Garlic Town include: 

  • Chef Cara Thatch’s “When I Dip, You Dip, We Dip” demonstration. In this returning favorite, Chef Cara of couch + cork demystifies dipping oils, marinades & salad dressings.
  • World of Wonder: The troop of superheroes and princesses returns, and will provide a star-studded photo op at noon.
  • Jim Thatch’s garlic trivia
  • Doug Eash’s Magic Show
  • Garlic Ice Cream Demo

Garlic Town merchandise store

Each year the Garlic Town, USA merchandise store practically sells out of merchandise as patrons get their souvenirs from the festival-managed booth. Visit garlictownusa.com/swag/ to see the array T-shirts, tote bags, hats and more apparel available this year.

Volunteers needed

Garlic Town relies on over 100 volunteers, both to transform Depot Street the week of the event, as well as various positions the day of. Volunteers will have a “Kick-off Party” and training night on Thursday, Aug. 31, at the festival site sponsored by Ramunto’s. Those interested can register at: GarlicTownUSA.com/stinkin-volunteers/

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