The Hudson Valley Garlic Festival is back after the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of last year’s festival.
The popular festival returns to the Cantine Veteran’s Memorial Complex on Washington Avenue Extension on October 2 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and October 3 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
“We were able to move things around and still make a commitment to the community,” said Richard Kapper, a member and past president of the Kiwanis Club of Saugerties, which sponsors the event. The festival serves as a major fundraiser for the club’ many community service projects around the Town and Village.
While this year’s festival will be a little bit smaller than years past, garlic fans can still browse between 175-180 vendors. Kappler pinned the reduced number of vendors on the pandemic. “A number of vendors decided to retire due to the pandemic.
“With fewer vendors we have more room to spread out, it will be safer for everybody,” he said.
Like years past, they include a number of local vendors from the Hudson Valley, along with others farther afield and out of state. He said this year’s roster primarily consists of vendors the festival has had in the past with a few new vendors mixed in. “We decided to stick with those who we’re familiar with because of all the uncertainties this brings.”
Kappler believes the festival will be just as good as last year. However, the pandemic did force them to make some difficult decisions like jettisoning a tent that housed lectures, cooking demos and activities for kids. “As a result of the pandemic, we didn’t feel the tent is in the best interest of everyone’s safety.” Instead, the festival is offering handouts to every kid that attends so they’ll have something to take home.
Kappler admitted the pandemic remains a deep concern for the festival’s organizers after active case counts surged back up during the summer due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He said they’ve watched as masking requirements and other regulations have shifted. “Vaccinated people didn’t need them inside, now they do and now they’re recommending them outside in crowded close areas.”
He said the organizers will follow whatever rules the CDD and county are enforcing.
But despite the ongoing COVID-19 related concerns, people are overwhelmingly excited about the festival’s return, he said.
Kappler said some people come to the festival to try all the different kinds of garlic or perhaps one of the many foods made with garlic. “You’ve got things like fudge made with garlic and granola made with garlic, garlic pickles and garlic shots with garlic and juice together. I really like it. I try to taste a little bit of everything.”
The festival also offers music and craft vendors.
Kappler said in the years since its inception in 1992, the Garlic Festival has grown to become the Kiwanis Club of Saugerties’ largest annual fundraising event, bringing in more than $2 million during its run for community projects.
He said they range from helping to make the Kiwanis Ice Arena a reality, to supporting the Boys & Girls Club of Ulster County, the Key Club and Builder’s Club at Saugerties High School, helping students to get into the President’s Challenge program at SUNY Ulster and scholarships for graduating seniors from Saugerties High School.
He said the Kiwanis took a big hit last year when the festival was called off.
For more information about the Hudson Valley Garlic Festival and for advance tickets, visit http://hvgf.org. Tickets are $7 for adults and $5 for seniors 65+. Online ticket vouchers must be printed out and exchanged at the ticket booth for tickets.
Tickets are $10 at the gate, children 12 and under are free.