Garlic Fest Invades Shaker Square For Its Sixth Delicious Year
It seems like this weekend is jammed packed with events worthy of your time, but there’s only one worthy of your appetite and that’s the Cleveland Garlic Fest. Now in it’s 6th year, this annual fundraiser for the North Union Farmers Market descends upon Shaker Square bringing you all the garlic infused goodness you could possibly imagine as well as events like the Top Chef Grill Off, Miss Garlic 2015 and new this year, the Ohio Cheese Guild Tent. You can also check out live music from the Revolutionary Brass Band, By Light We Loom, The Commonwealth, Midnight Passenger, Maura Rogers and more!
We caught up with Emma Visnic, the general manager of the North Union Farmers Market to get a stronger sense (wink) of the event.
How long has Garlic Fest been going on and how did it come about?
This is the sixth year of the Cleveland Garlic Festival, a fund raiser for North Union Farmers Market! When we began planning the festival, we wanted it to be focused on one of Ohio’s best crops, and garlic sprang to mind. Not only is it an awesomely versatile crop, it makes an appearance in foods from all over the world, but Ohio has wonderful mineral rich soil that lends to fantastic flavor and the ability to grow over 300 varietals.
Building a festival around such a delicious and flexible product has been so much fun, and watching all of the participating Cleveland Chefs and food producers get creative with garlic is the best part!
What distinguishes the festival from other events in town?
The Cleveland Garlic Festival is a truly local event. We feature local farms, chefs, bakers, restaurants, businesses and music to really make this an unique to Cleveland event. Since it’s a fundraiser for the farmers markets, participants are really thoughtful about sourcing local as well.
The garlic growers are the real stars of the event and since they are growing their own product, they can answer any garlic related question you could have! We have customers who return every year to get new varietals of garlic seed to grow their own!
Tell us about your relationship with Shaker Square? Why that location?
North Union Farmers Market started its first farmers market at Shaker Square 20 years ago and this is truly our home base. When we started the festival, it was really important to us that we be able to feature a Cleveland place that we really love. Shaker Square is such a unique location that blends diverse neighborhoods, some of the best restaurants in Cleveland and vibrant community events. It’s also a historic landmark and was the second planned shopping center in the United States!
Garlic Fest is an off shoot of North Union Farmers’ Market. Tell us a bit about that organization.
North Union Farmers Market operates ten authentic, certified, producer-only markets and also offer related programming to encourage consumers and farmers to participate in the markets in order to:
- Teach consumers about the taste and health benefits of eating fresh, locally grown seasonal produce, carrying on the traditions of the North Union Shakers.
- Improve the regional economy by creating vibrant community spaces.
- Enhance our environment and economy by enabling small farms to sell directly to consumers.
The funds raised at the festival help us to continue a lot of our programming including SNAP (food stamp) access at all markets, Music at the Market, Chef at the Market food demos, our Mighty Locavore Children’s Educational program with in the Cleveland Municipal School District and much more!
What’s your favorite food at Garlic Fest?
This is the hardest question, there is such good food! I love Mitchell’s Garlic Ice Cream, Garlic Fries, New Creation Farm’s Pulled Pork Sammy, Zanzibar’s garlic shrimp and basically everything that La Campagna cooks up. However, I always advise that guests don’t miss the Top Chef Garlic Grill Offs! You never know what the Chefs will come up with, and they provide samples so you can try what they are cooking right in front of you!
Check out more info at www.clevelandgarlicfestival.org and check out all the events below.
GRASS-FED BEEF COMPETITION
Forest Hill Kitchen
EDWINS Leadership & Restaurant Institute
Skye LaRae’s Culinary Services
Food Editor, The Plain Dealer
Owner / Chef, La Campagna
FREE RANGE CHICKEN COMPETITION
Canal Tavern of Zoar
Executive Chef, The Willeyville
Owner, EDWINS Leadership & Restaurant Institute
International Culinary Arts and Sciences Institute
PASTURE RAISED PORK COMPETITION
Deagan’s Kitchen & Bar
Cibreo Italian Kitchen
University Hospitals Ahuja Medical Center
One Eleven Bistro
Grove Hill Restaurant
Reporter, The Plain Dealer
Owner / Chef, fire, food and drink
VEGETARIAN GARLIC COMPETITION
University Hospitals Ahuja Medical Center
Anna in the Raw
Quince Bakery & Cafe
Owner / Chef, Flying Fig
Owner / Chef, SASA
Owner / Executive Pastry Chef,