Canal Place in Little Falls was the place to find all things garlic Saturday and there were plenty of people interested in doing just that.
Cloudy skies and cool temperatures didn’t keep the crowds away from the Mohawk Valley Garlic and Herb Festival or dampen the spirits of festival goers or vendors.
And the uninitiated discovered that there is more to garlic than meets the eye - or nostrils.
Pat and Bob Eaton, of Middleburgh, drew a crowd to their Braids ‘N’ Bulbs booth with varieties of garlic such as German Extra Hardy, Foxy, Fox Creek Red, Seoul Sister, Nirvana Weird, Russian Red, Slovak, Polish Gem and others. The neck of each bulb was labeled to eliminate any guesswork.
Bob Eaton said he started growing garlic to keep insects away from his tomatoes, but then became interested in growing garlic as a crop. He buys different varieties, tries them and, if he likes them, tries growing them.
“We were as high as 100 varieties,” he said, adding that this was too much to take care of with a full-time job. “Now we have about 60 varieties.”
This was the couple’s fifth year at the Little Falls festival. They started out selling their produce at a show in Sharon Springs, but when some changes were made there, they decided to try the Little Falls festival, which was seeking to expand.
Eaton said the weather appeared better than last year’s when a black cloud rolled in about 2 p.m. with high winds that took down several of the vendors’ tents.
Next door to Braids ‘N’ Bulbs was Harry’s Pottery, of Canajoharie. Harry Barse offered a variety of items including garlic roasters and garlic keepers. Roasted garlic caramelizes, he said. “It gives it a different flavor altogether.” Garlic keeps quite awhile in a garlic keeper, which helps regulate the temperature. Holes in the side allow air to circulate. Dave Fox and his mother, Phyllis, of Veratar Farm, Vernon, offered five kinds of garlic grown using organic methods. While the farm isn’t certified organic, Dave Fox said, he uses no chemicals to fertilize the plants or to kill the weeds. It is labor-intensive work that involves plenty of hand weeding. Manure is used for fertilizer.
Asked if they use garlic in their cooking, Phyllis Fox replied, “Every day. Three meals a day if we can.”
“I haven’t read anything bad about garlic,” added Dave Fox.
In addition to bulbs and braids of garlic, there were garlic products. The Northeast Corner Herb Farm, of Fort Ann, offered Garlicious Grind seasoning, recommended for use on steaks, chops, roasts, poultry, eggs, potatoes, popcorn, roasted nuts or seeds. Richard Sandora also offered dip mixes for visitors to sample. He credited his wife, Penny, with making the herbal braids that were drawing attention. The braids contain garlic and a variety of herbs and can be hung in the kitchen where the cook can snip off what he or she needs.
Page 2 of 2 - Garlic fudge, garlic flavored popcorn and garlic cheese were among the other offerings at the various booths.
“If you like garlic, this is the place to be,” one festival goer was heard to comment.
Another, who had apparently made a few purchases, said, “We’ll have to roll down the windows on the way home.”
There was also plenty to see and do for those who weren’t interested in garlic.
Rosemary Konkol, of New Hartford, offered herbs at her Rosemary’s Thyme booth. There were hollowed out gourds with oregano - Kent Beauty or Golden - growing in them. She also offered Kokedama balls, a green moss-covered type of Bonsai, and various plants and other items.
Youngsters competed in the Garlic Queen Pageant under one tent while bands provided music under another. The pageant contestants wrapped up in jackets or blankets between appearances as temperatures remained cool late Saturday morning.
Fred Bennett of Salisbury offered horse-drawn wagon rides behind spotted draft horses, Ben and Annie. This was Bennett’s first year at the festival, although he has given rides in Little Falls in the past during the Christmas holiday season. Organizers wanted to add wagon rides to the festival and asked him to come, he said.
For those up for a hike, there were tours of Moss Island.
The Gansevoort House Books and Gallery booth offered not only books, but also local authors to autograph them. Teri Dunn Chace, of Little Falls, was on hand to promote her new book, Seeing Flowers. The book is available at Gansevoort House Books, 410 Canal Place at the Ole Sal’s Creamery Café in the Stone Mill. Online shoppers can look for it at the local store by going through www.indiebound.org or find it at Amazon. Other local authors were also expected to stop by to sign copies of their books.