Minnesota Garlic Festival

Jill Lewis / Heavy Table
Jill Lewis / Heavy Table

If you concur with the Louis Diat quote pictured above, the Minnesota Garlic Festival was the place to be this past Saturday. Organized by the Crow River Sustainable Farming Association, the fourth annual event celebrated the fresh-breath-defying allium in all forms — raw, roasted, and mixed into pestos, cheese spreads, baked goods, and soap. Oh, and ice cream.

Before you dismiss garlic ice cream as another faux-foodie fad, consider this: creamy Cedar Summit Farm ice cream mixed with tiny pieces of minced garlic. The cool dessert softened the bite of the raw garlic, making it palatable for the youngest festival-goers but still retaining its distinctive garlic flavor. TheĀ  same couldn’t be said for the garlic chocolate chip cookies, which featured no detectable garlicky goodness.

Jill Lewis / Heavy Table
Jill Lewis / Heavy Table

But enough about garlic desserts. The festival included more than a dozen local garlic growers who peddled their wares alongside other Minnesota produce vendors, cheesemakers, bakers, and craftsmen and women, while well-known Twin Cities restaurateurs lent their recipes to the Great Scape Cafe, whose offerings included Common Roots‘ roast beef sandwich with garlic aioli, garlic sausage from The Craftsman, and garlic-dressed potato salad from Lucia’s. Cooking demonstrations with chefs such as Alex Roberts (Brasa) and Joe Foster (Zella’s of Hutchinson) had rapt audiences, and local agriculture experts offered advice on growing garlic in the education tent. Five Minnesota vineyards brought bottles for tasting, but those too young to imbibe had alternate entertainment — veggie bowling with cabbages and summer squash.

Festival organizers stressed their goal of creating a zero-waste event with signage throughout the fairgrounds and by providing separate receptables for compost, recycling, and non-renewable trash. They probably should have given the memo to the folks at Kashi, though. The providers of the recyclable shopping bags, which were handed out liberally to attendees, wrapped the earth-friendly totes in plastic, and the discarded wraps soon filled the trash bin outside the agribition building. Oops. Next year, Kashi.


  1. Jerry Ford

    Thanks, Jill, for this excellent article! We were very pleased with the festival this year, and broke attendance records – even though it rained!

    I appreciate that you brought up our “zero waste” goal. We are an education based non-profit, and part of our mission is to educate companies on sustainable practices, most specifically having to do with farming and local foods, but also on environmental stewardship. The reusable shopping bags from Kashi were a promotional item provided by Cashwise natural foods department – one of our sponsors – and I think Cashwise got an ear-full about the plastic wrappers. My hope is that this would “trickle up” to Kashi, and maybe we’ll see a change. I think the Garlic Festival was a bit of a new experience for Cashwise, but they seemed to enjoy it – and maybe they learned something, too!

    Again, thanks for the attention, and we hope to see you next year – August 14th, same location.

    Jerry Ford
    Director, MN Garlic Festival

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