Garlic Festival PosterThis weekend the city of Delray Beach, Florida,  is throwing its 14th annual Garlic Festival, “The biggest stinkin’ party in town.”  I went yesterday to check out the festivities. A festive day it was, celebrating all things garlic.  Garlic?  Who’da thought?

The festival is a fund raiser for many local non-profits that support education and arts for youth.  Hundreds of young people were on hand volunteering many hours for their organizations.  Volunteerism is huge in this town.  “Mr. Garlic” was jovial in his new costume (the old one had worn out) as he mingled with the crowds.  The grounds were jam-packed with vendor tents, food and drink booths, entertainment stage and covered lawn, amusement rides, “Garlic University” arts & crafts area for the kids, and “Garlic Chef Stadium,” where all-day cooking competitions and demonstrations were held.  New this year was a garlic kissing booth.

Gourmet Alley menu

Garlic lovers were finding a feast of garlic-laden foods along “Gourmet Alley.”  Offerings included pizza, chicken in various forms, sausage, mahi-mahi, fish tacos, nachos, paninis, bruschetta, shrimp scampi, london broil, stuffed portabellas, crab cakes, chili, funnel cakes, ice cream (a favorite), and local specialties: conch and gator fritters.   Beer, wine, and margarita stands did a booming business, as did juice and smoothie booths.  Vendor were selling out of their wares.  Musicians and bands kept the party lively all day and evening.  Kids and families were having a great time on the rides.

Gourmet Alley stores

A few Gourmet Alley options

I spent much of the day in “Garlic Chef Stadium” watching local chefs compete for the coveted title of 2013 Garlic Chef.  More about that in a separate post.

Margarita bar

Margaritas and tropical drinks

Delray is always finding ways to bring residents and visitors together for a rollicking good time, and this party did not disappoint. The city is proud of their 2012 title of Most Fun Small Town in America in Rand McNally’s Best of the Road challenge (it held a big celebration for that award last July).  Residents, snow birds, tourists, and out-of-towners flock to this place to participate in ongoing festivities.  Next week is the next “Fabulous 3rd Friday” of the month, when throngs will congregate downtown to stroll around, shop-dine-drink at local establishments, socialize, and be entertained.  The city has seemed to figure out how to keep people engaged and coming back for more.

Mr. Garlic

Mr. Garlic Schmoozing