It was sometime back in 2005, when garlic grower, Warren Ham and Ron Deichert had a chat about his concern for the state of the garlic growing industry in Ontario. The Kiwanis Club was also looking for great projects to support the community and also as a fundraiser. The Kiwanis Club in upstate New York had been hosting a very successful Garlic Festival each year.
That very spring we sat down to work out the logistics and, with the enthusiastic support of the Stratford Kiwanis Club and the Garlic Growers Association of Ontario, the Stratford Garlic Festival came to fruition in 2007. The Kiwanians immediately formed a committee comprised of hardworking and innovative people, dedicated to the success of the festival.
When the big day finally arrived, we couldn’t have imagined how cold and wet a September day could actually be, but the crowds came anyway. Almost 2000 brave souls came out to enjoy the event. We knew that with that kind of a turnout, we had to offer up another festival the next year and although we figured we would not have bad weather two years in a row, we were wrong because the weather the following year was even worse. The funny thing was, our gate tally proved that even more people came to Stratford to buy garlic, eat garlic fudge and enjoy the extraordinary demonstrations and presentations. We forged on.
In the third year the weather improved and, once again, so did the crowds. We were now over 4000 patrons and the vendors were starting to call us to reserve a place to display their wares. We were excited to see that the festival was paying off and people were looking to purchase Ontario Garlic, not just at the festival but in our supermarkets as well. Clearly, it pays to promote that which is good!
The Stratford Garlic Festival committee has been hard at work with the planning for the 2016 festival, which will be bigger and better than ever! With a line up of exciting and interesting presentations, demonstrations, children’s events and entertainment everyone is sure to have a great time!
The Kiwanis Club of Stratford and the Stratford Garlic Festival are ready to welcome you too, because the only thing better than the garlic itself is sharing it with you! We hope to see you out at the 10th Annual Stratford Kiwanis Garlic Festival on Saturday, September 10th and Sunday, September 11th, 2016.
One of the best stories I have heard yet was in our first year when a young man had been sitting in his hotel room in Moscow, reading the Globe and Mail on the internet. He noticed a small article about our event and emailed the information to his garlic loving parents who lived near Wallaceburg. His parents came to the festival and were delighted with the food, the demonstrations, the atmosphere and the warm welcome they received.