Every Labor Day Weekend in Historic Downtown Bennington, Vermont!

BENNINGTON

Garlic Town U.S.A.

Eat, drink & get stinky with us at Vermont’s biggest family farmers’ market

Vermont’s biggest family farmers’ market
BENNINGTON

Festival History

Vermont’s award-winning Garlic Festival in Bennington, Vermont has transformed into Garlic Town, USA!

Join over 100 vendors, 20+ food vendors, dozens of garlic growers, musical performances, kids’ activities and more at the annual Garlic Town, USA event on Saturday, September 3rd of Labor Day Weekend!

The original Garlic and Herb Festival (known to many as Garlicfest) started in Wilmington, Vermont in 1995 as a small farmers’ market focused on the stinking rose.  Over time the festival grew with dozens of vendors and thousands of visitors.  Around 2007, the Chamber of Commerce of Bennington (and now Southwestern Vermont), worked with the original producers Steve Wrathall and Joy Love to bring the festival to Bennington, Vermont.  From 2008 to 2019, under the leadership of Lindy Lynch and her faithful band of volunteers, the Garlic Fest grew by over 260% reaching crowds of over 16,000 people for two day event and winning numerous awards!

With the passing of Lindy in summer of 2019 and the 2020 pandemic, the Chamber pivoted the festival to downtown Bennington assuring that there wouldn’t be a year without a Garlic event in Southern Vermont!  In 2020, the festival was small with many locals and faithful garlic shoppers continuing the tradition in a rebranded effort called Garlic Town, USA.  As the pandemic subsided, the Chamber under the leadership of Matt Harrington and event manager Mikaela Lewis, decided to bring back the size, excitement and stinkiness of the original festival!  In 2021, as a one day event the festival saw over 9,000 patrons enjoy garlic growers, craft and artistic vendors, food trucks, kids’ activities as well as rediscovered Bennington with sidewalk sales, garlic cocktail specials, new shops and more!

This year we are cranking up the celebration!  Garlic Town, USA will bring back over 125 vendors, many of the original garlic growers, 20+ food trucks, kids’ activities, live bands, our Beer and Wine Garden Bars (a fan favorite), hay wagon rides, sidewalk sales and more!  Join us on Saturday, September 3rd – as always – on Labor Day Weekend in Bennington, Vermont!

 

FESTIVAL TIMELINE

2008: Chamber purchases festival from original founders, Steve Wrathall and Joy Powell

2009 – 2019: Under the direction of the Chamber, Garlic Fest as it is affectionately known finds a home at Camelot Village. Over the next decade the Garlic Fest grew by 260%, hosting over 200 vendors, 25 food trucks, 8 bands, a garlic beer and wine bar and more!

August 2019: Lost our event chair of over 10 years, Lindy Lynch, to cancer. In her tenure, Lindy grew this festival by over 200%! 

September 2019: Largest festival turnout ever with over 16,000 attendees throughout the weekend. Also had the highest volunteer turnout ever, in honor of Lindy. This was our last year hosting the festival at Camelot Village before it was put up for sale.

September 2020: After COVID-19 hit, our team needed to come up with a new and safe way to continue celebrating our favorite holiday weekend and help out our farmers.  A small, COVID-friendly version of “Garlic Town” was born! We invited 20 of our original garlic growing vendors and farmers back to Bennington and spread them throughout town at no cost in order to help them sell their garlic and produce crops that were produced prior to the larger festival cancellation. 

September 2021: Now celebrating it’s “second year” of operation, Garlic Town USA brings back a lot of the original Garlic Fest features including 100+ vendors, garlic growers, bands all in downtown Bennington. The festival welcomes over 9,000 people to Bennington for one day!

Joy Powell – Co-Founder

In Memorium | Lyndy Lynch

The heart and soul of chamber events for the past decade was Lindy Lynch.

Every year we marveled at how she would pull it all together, galvanizing the massive team of volunteers, and creating Winterfests, Restaurant Weeks, Annual Membership Meetings, getting a Vermont Christmas tree to Washington and, of course, Garlicfest!

We celebrated with Lindy Lynch her 10(ish) year last year of Garlicfest as chair of Garlicfest.  Lindy later corrected us with a wink and said it was probably more like 12 years.  But that’s just it, right?  You start doing something you love, with the people you love, for the community you love and you tend to forget time.  It becomes an absolute joy.  If you watched Lindy, you can see this festival was an absolute love of hers.  Lindy with her lists, and SOPs, and maps, and her golf carts.  And those glasses! She loved doing this!

Going back through the numbers, under Lindy’s leadership, Garlicfest has grown by 262% (based on net fundraising revenue) over the last 11 years!  That’s simple amazing and humbling.

They say it takes a community, well I think it takes more.  It takes a leader.  It takes courage.  It takes vision. It takes heart.  It takes Lindy Lynch.

She knew the arch of Bennington’s greatness always leaned towards a positive, vibrant future. She also knew you had to fight for it through civic service.

In the final months, when we would visit weekly to go over Garlicfest plans, she would start off soft-spoken, weaker than we all remember her, but it didn’t take long for the “red tornado” to come forth and she would get animated about this aspect of Garlicfest or needing more volunteers or which vendor needed to go where. She had true passion for events, organizing them and the community that was impacted by them.

Lindy, we so wish you could see one more Garlicfest. We can hear your great, big laugh and smile echoing into the night after a day of Garlicfest would wrap up.  We will miss you leadership, your direction and your inspiration.

This Garlicfest team that you’ve built will do everything in our power to make you proud of an organized, fun Garlicfest this year and beyond. We will continue your legacy of well-done community-based events, active and civic volunteerism and an ever-ferocious pursuit of excellence in all that we do.

Lindy, thank you for the many, many years you’ve mentored scores of volunteers and put Bennington on the map!

Rest in peace,
Your Stinkin’ Garlicfest captains, volunteers and chamber staff