Everyone who knows me well knows that I absolutely love to wake up at 5:30 in the morning. Everyone who doesn’t know me can disregard that because it’s a joke. I found myself waking up at that time to help my mother and Phil put in the finishing touches on our stand at the Minnesota Garlic Festival in Hutchinson.
We drove up the day before with a van full of garlic and unpacked as quick as we could at our stand’s dedicated space. Our stand was the first one through the door so unloading was quite easy. Measuring out half pound and one pound bags of garlic was our real setup time sink.
Halfway through bagging we realized that we had forgotten our baskets to display our garlic. After we had to leave at 6PM on the day before we set out into town to find some baskets. We found some good baskets at the local Goodwill, though I wasn’t very involved in the process because I was distracted by the Halloween costumes that were on sale.
The morning of the festival that I had woken up so early for started slowly. After we ate breakfast we resumed bagging and organizing our garlic in baskets. Before I knew it, it was 10 AM and the festival was in full swing. All three of us could not keep up with the demand that we got for our garlic. Again, being by the door helped. The demand during the first few hours was so great that we were constantly passing money between ourselves for change and restocking our tables with more and more garlic bags.
Eventually we got a break to enjoy the festival ourselves. Much of the traffic through the festival had cooled down by about noon. We took turns to explore the other booths and attractions we had heard about from other people. My first priority was food.
Having a gyro after such a long time was such a treat, especially with the garlic that they added to it. Gyros and garlic are a natural combination and not that controversial. Where things got crazy was the garlic ice cream. If I recall correctly, the garlic ice cream was vanilla with honey in it. The garlic was very subtle but noticeable and actually worked very well. When passing by our booth, festival goers asked where I got the ice cream. I explained to them that it was garlic flavor and they were about as floored with the idea as I was by how well the combination works.
Some people were so confused that their faces said “I need a beer,” and they would have been in luck. My mom grabbed me a beer on her first break and I made sure to get one later on my own time.
The other stands and attractions were quite interesting but I was too caught up in our own operations to be able to focus on them much. There was an entirely different area for vendors selling all sorts of other products related to farming or self care. I made sure to grab some sweets for my parents more than a few times from one place that made chocolate turtles that were shaped like and named after cow tracks.
Throughout the fair, all sorts of entertainment was going on. Live music was played in both the garlic vendor building and outside. At one point a flute player came up to our booth and conversed with me over the flute. The show didn’t stop there. Not long after that a garlic parade started in the garlic vendor building and went all around the festival, stealing the attention of all. All around they walked, in old fashioned masks or playing music. My favorite part of the parade was a fire breather who looked like they were juggling flaming marshmallows in and out of their mouth.
The rest of the festival after that point was very relaxed for our stand. Buyers visited us at a slower pace and I got to pay more attention to my parents as they described our growing process and the finer differences between our garlic types. By then we had sold out of metechi, our hottest garlic, and our garlic flakes. We still had some left over music and Ed’s Porcelain by the end, although it sold quite consistently over time. We ended on a high note, selling over ten pounds of both those varieties combined to an unfortunate farmer who had lost all of their crop and wanted to get back into the garlic game.
All in all, the Minnesota Garlic Festival in Hutchinson was worth waking up at 5:30 AM, and I do not lightly give that honor. I was happy to see my parents do so well. They had prepared so much and we got a lot of business from impressed customers who were excited to try us out or were repeat customers. We wish that Ed could have been there with us to see all of the excitement about our garlic. He would have been proud.