Oliver Egan

Another successful year for the Hills Garlic Festival

As many as 6,000 people attended the annual festival, which took place at the Centenary Park in New Denver.

Hordes of people gathered at the Centenary Park in New Denver to take part in the annual Hills Garlic Festival.

Everything a person could want involving garlic was there, from cloves, to garlic salt, a variety of garlic related foods, even garlic ice cream.

There is more to the festival than just garlic. Many vendors were on site selling regular and organic fruit and veggies, flowers, hand made and/or painted crockery, clothing, and more, and a stage was set up for various musicians to play throughout the event.

While residents of the surrounding areas are encouraged to come to the festival, there were some unwanted guests this year.

A mama bear and her cubs were at the celebration this year, up in a tree by one of the gates. No one is certain how they got there, but the theory is they were cruising around the campground nearby the night before, and when people started getting ready for the festival in the morning, they went up.

As soon as people realized they were there, volunteers quickly cordoned off the area to keep visitors safe.

“I think people are generally respecting the space for the bears,” said Bree Lillies with WildSafe BC. “It’s obviously a stressful situation for the animals, and we’re just trying to keep people moving along, and as the bears shuffle around the tree, we’re just trying to keep people clear.”

This was Lillies’ fourth year at the festival, and while she’s always had a fun time, it was never this interesting.

Though the day of Garlic Fest dawned sunny and clear, rain started coming down around noon, with blowing winds coming in soon after, causing many to take shelter in the park’s gazebo.

One great thing about the festival is it brings in people from all over BC. Many are from the West Kootenays, but some are also from Vernon, and other areas.

“I’ve seen so many people from all over the place, it draws in a big crowd,” said Michael Myhal. “At this time of year it’s nice to have that kind of thing.”

He said having the festival is sort of a last hurrah before the snow comes and people start settling down for the winter.

Though the exact numbers aren’t in yet, it is estimated around 6,000 people came to the festival. Not bad in terms of celebrating a bulb.