Local garlic farmer Bernard Thomas, left, stands at his vendor tent Saturday as Cathy Hicks of Vassalboro browses the merchandise during Maine’s Garlic Fest at Lake George Regional Park in Skowhegan. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

SKOWHEGAN — Looking to celebrate an often-overlooked staple flavor of savory fall dishes? Look no further than Lake George Regional Park, where garlic takes center stage this weekend during Maine’s Garlic Fest.

The event returns to Lake George Regional Park for the third year, offering a variety of goods, both garlic-focused and not. The festival ran all day Saturday and returns Sunday from 9:30 a.m., until 4 p.m. Tickets are $5 per person, and can be purchased online, and kids 12 and under get in for free.

A basket full of fresh, local garlic, grown by Bernard Thomas, waits to be sold Saturday during Maine’s Garlic Fest at Lake George Regional Park in Skowhegan. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

Sunday’s offerings will include live music, a variety of vendors, free kayak rentals and a hike led by Skowhegan Outdoors, said Darryll White, director of the park.

The business that first spurred the festival, Crazy 4 Garlic, was set up under a large tent Saturday afternoon, doing steady business Saturday selling multiple varieties of garlic, several spreads and flatbreads.

Erica McGann, a special education teacher at Canaan Elementary School, owns the business with Jason Waugh, a carpenter. The pair owns a 50 acre farm in Canaan, where they exclusively grow garlic. When they started the business 10 years ago they had around 700 heads of garlic, McGann said.

“We just started growing, and then we gave some to our neighbors and our friends and they were like, ‘You guys are crazy for garlic,'” McGann said. “We were like, we kind of are, so we decided that we were so crazy that we were going to keep planting.”


Every year since, business has doubled, and this year they grew just under 17,000 heads. And the market for garlic is so big that they could sell more, McGann said, but they are limited by their manpower.

So how did a garlic farm lead to the garlic fest? The idea for the event came around in 2018, White said, when the park was looking to come up with a few annual events for fundraising.

At the same time, McGann had realized they had run out of space for the yearly garlic festival on the farm. So the two organizations joined forces, to host the garlic fest at the park, allowing for room to grow the event.

“We are just so thankful for everybody that does turn out because without them we wouldn’t be here,” McGann said.

Maine’s Garlic Fest gets underway Saturday at Lake George Regional Park in Skowhegan. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

And grow it has, with roughly 2,000 people attending last year. This year, the park was able to get a marketing grant ahead of the festival, which allowed it to do a few radio ads and expand its social media presence. Given all of that, White said he was expecting around 3,000 people this weekend.

“There’s a lot of people in the community that support the park in general, Crazy 4 Garlic certainly has their own following, but this community is special in that regard,” White said. “It’s a very, very community oriented region.”

The crowd Saturday certainly looked on track to reach a new record for attendance. The parking lot on the west side of the park filled quickly Saturday morning, with overflow parking on the east side. There was a steady crowd in the morning, even with the cool start to the day.

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