Orange’s Garlic and Arts Festival will be pop-up marketplace this year

  • Jon Holland and Lisa Bouchie, of Orange, pick out handmade garlic braids for sale during the 2017 North Quabbin Garlic and Arts Festival. This year’s festival will consist of a free pop-up marketplace on Sept. 18, rather than the full festivities, out of an abundance of concern over the rise of Delta variant cases. STAFF FILE PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Staff Writer
Published: 8/20/2021 2:44:26 PM
Modified: 8/20/2021 2:44:33 PM

ORANGE — One year after becoming a remote event due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the North Quabbin Garlic and Arts Festival will consist of a free pop-up marketplace on Sept. 18, rather than the full festivities, out of an abundance of concern over the rise of Delta variant cases.

The event’s 15-member organizing committee opted in February — long before the Delta variant started to wreak havoc around the world — to change the format. Co-founder Deb Habib said it does not seem safe or reasonable to hold a large event, considering all that would be required to minimize people’s risk of exposure.

“We made our best decision and I’m glad we did, quite frankly, with rises in cases and all,” she said.

This year’s event will last from noon to 5 p.m. and be made up of no more than 25 vendors and a small stage for open-mic stories and songs. Typically swamped with food vendors, the event this year will have only Nalini’s Kitchen, though Samara (formerly MapleMama) will be on hand with non-alcoholic craft maple spritzers for sale.

The pop-up marketplace will be held at the festival’s usual spot — 60 Chestnut Hill Road, on property owned by Orange resident Dorothy Forster, whose father ran a dairy farm on the land from 1926 to 1941.

“(This is) just an opportunity for families to come and have a little picnic and support local artists and enjoy the beauty of the Forster farm site,” Habib said. “The spirit of the Garlic and Arts Festival is bigger than one weekend and it’s really about community support, the arts, agriculture ... emanating outward.”

The first Garlic and Arts Festival took place in 1999. It grew out of a conversation the previous year between Habib’s husband, garlic farmer Ricky Baruc, and woodworker Jim Fountain, in which the two lamented about the lack of local venues for selling their products. In typical years, the festival is said to average around 10,000 people per weekend.

Habib and Baruc own Seeds of Solidarity, which, starting Sept. 11, will hold five consecutive “Garlic Saturdays” at the farm stand a mile down the road from the marketplace. Habib said a dozen varieties of garlic seeds will be available (because fall is the ideal time to plant) and growing tips will be offered. Habib also said self-guided tour maps will be available, and nearby potter Lydia Grey will have her gallery open.

Reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 262.


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