Come Hungry To The Chehalis Garlic Fest



by Katie Doolittle

lucky eagleThe Garlic Fest is almost here, to the great delight of festival devotees. As annual attendee Kathleen Thomas enthuses, “I love the Garlic Festival! There’s a great variety of garlic dishes available which inspires my own cooking. This will be my third time attending the festival and I’m really looking forward to it.” As Thomas notes, there will be plenty to see, do, and eat at this family-friendly event.Garlic Festival Arch

The 17th annual Chehalis Garlic Fest runs from August 23rd to August 25th at the Southwest Washington Fairgrounds, located on 2555 North National Avenue in Chehalis.

Without a doubt, the best way to enjoy Garlic Fest is with an empty belly and a cash-filled wallet. If possible, bring a group of food-loving friends along: you can sample more variety if you’re splitting all the dishes. And oh, what variety there is to sample. Traditional fair food—fries, onion rings, and hot dogs—tastes even better when spiked with garlic. Looking for something healthier? In previous years they’ve offered garlic shrimp, corn, and even quinoa. The truly adventurous may even wish to try garlic-infused dessert items, which include ice cream and fudge. And the food items mentioned here only scratch the surface of what will be offered.

The food court is comprised of a well-organized semi-circle. Each vendor offers at least one garlicky dish, and the themed menu items are listed on a green festival sign above each booth or truck. Lines can be long depending on the time of day, but we discovered with our second batch of onion rings last year that the wait can be worth it: the frying oils take on a heavier garlic flavor as the day continues.

Galic Festival Food
Vendors offer at least one garlicky menu item at each booth.

A word to the wise –  depending on the time of day, both shade and seating can be in short supply. Consider bringing a picnic blanket to spread beneath a tree. Alternatively, why not take a break from the sunshine and festival food? Cool down with a stroll through one of the fairground halls, where there are plenty of local vendors, artisans, and community groups to support. The wide variety of products available ranges from home decor items to goat milk soap to gourmet balsamic vinegar. Not surprisingly, there are also many farmers on hand selling a plethora of garlic varietals, both for planting and for cooking.

There is even live music and entertainment, free to enjoy. This year’s line-up includes The Blackberry Bushes, a Northwest Alt-Folk String Band. They’ll be playing at 2:30 pm on Saturday, August 24.

This is certainly an all-ages event, and families can have a day of fun and food at minimal cost. There are, however, a few adult-only aspects to the festivities. One of the fairground buildings houses an annual wine-tasting event, put on to benefit the Advocate Foundation. The 21-and-over crowd can pay to sample several local wines, but all ages are freely welcome inside the swanky, lounge type environment.

Garlic Festival Beer
Dick’s Brewing’s Garlic Beer is an annual favorite in the beer garden.

If wine is not your preference, you can refresh yourself with several beverage options at the adults-only beer garden. By far, the most popular brew is the garlic beer—get there early if you want a taste, because it usually sells out. This limited edition beer comes from Dick’s Brewing Company, based in Centralia.

Festival hours on Friday, August 23 run from noon – 7:00 pm. Hours on Saturday, August 24 are from 10 am –  7 pm. You have one last chance to get your garlic groove going on Sunday, August 25. Final festival hours last from 10 am – 5 pm.

Parking is free, as is admission for children age 7 and under. General admission is $5.00, and seniors pay $4.00.  Enjoy the live music and live chef demos with your admission pass.

For more information, check the event’s official website or their Facebook page.


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