Transition

The information below is for the benefit of organizations interested in the possibility of  partnering with Toronto Garlic Festival. Interested parties should contact Peter McClusky for further details (Peterm@torontogarlicfestival.ca).

Objective

The Toronto Garlic Festival is seeking a partner to run the festival. The ideal candidate could be a Business Improvement Association, brewery, property developer, botanical garden, community group, a market, or other suitable entity that is seeking revenue generating opportunities, unique programming and activities to attract new visitors and/or to promote their brand. It is expected that certain features, such as the date and time of the festival and festival programming and other items may take a different path under a new leadership. Interested parties may contact Peter McClusky at Peterm@torontogarlicfestival.ca

Rationale

The Festival has tremendous value for the city of Toronto and for a partner willing to take it over or partner. The benefit for them will be a ready-made festival that will attract thousands of new visitors to their location and can generate additional revenue through merchandising, new programming, and other means. It can also serve as a fundraising tool. In this way, the Festival can continue in a financially sustainable manner while adding great value to the partner.

Why Garlic and why a Garlic Festival in Toronto

The immense popularity and success of Toronto Garlic Festival is due to the universal appeal of garlic, and the many interests and activities connected to garlic. This includes:

  • Garlic‚Äôs prominence as the most widely used ingredient in virtually every cuisine among 150+ ethnicities in the Greater Toronto Area¬† ¬†
  • Garlic‚Äôs essential use in every culture for all kinds of medicinal purposes
  • The Festival’s connection to a wide range of popular and esoteric interests including health and wellness, cultural identity, and gardening and farming
  • Garlic‚Äôs hidden culinary properties, including its use in dessert and alcoholic beverages
  • Garlic as a bridge between cultures, the festival is as much a celebration of Toronto’s diversity as it is a celebration of the garlic harvest

 

A predictor of the potential for future growth of Toronto Garlic Festival is the size and popularity of garlic festivals around the world, from the Hudson Valley Garlic Fest (50,000 visitors), Isle of Wight Garlic Fest (25,000 visitors) and Gilroy Garlic Festival (100,000 visitors).  In the right venue Toronto Garlic Festival has the potential to grow to similar proportions.

BACKGROUND                                                                                               

Toronto Garlic Festival was founded in 2011 and incorporated as a not-for-profit in 2017. From 2011 to 2014, it was held at Evergreen Brickworks. From 2015 to 2019 and, in 2022, it was held at Artscape Wychwood Barns. In 2020 and 2021, it was held virtually. The Festival runs from 9 am to 5 pm on a Sunday. The Festival typically occurs over one day at the end of September and receives 3,000 to 4,000 visitors, the maximum possible at the current venue.

Curation

Festival vendors and programming, including musicians, speakers and other activities and free events, are planned in order to create a true festival atmosphere. The balance of vendors is important in order to provide a diverse range of products while ensuring that vendors have a financially successful experience.

Vendor Recruitment

The Festival has contacts with hundreds of farmers, chefs, chocolatiers, breweries and distillers, wineries, and crafts people across Ontario. Farmers and chefs at Toronto Garlic Festival are required to make and sell at least one item using Ontario garlic as an ingredient. They may sell additional items that do not use garlic. They are not permitted to use imported garlic. Similarly, craft vendors make and sell at least one garlic-themed item, such as a garlic-shaped cutting board, in addition to other products from their inventory.

Media Coverage

The festival is featured extensively in radio, TV, print, and social media; garnering tens of millions of impressions, including CBC and Toronto Star to BlogTO, Muslim Links, and Xinhua News Agency. See Media Coverage.

2023 Programming (Not Confirmed)

Suggested 2023 programming includes live music and talks, workshops and cooking demos in the Speakers’ Corner. The music program is curated by Juno Award winning composer Donald Quan.

Live Music

Eagle Women Singerz; Klezmer Smorgasborg with Jonno Lightstone & Brian Katz; South Asian with Vandan Vishwas; World Percussion and Turkish Singing with Demitrios Petsalakis & Brenna MacCrimmon; Donald Quan & Bob Cohen (Film score compositions); Traditional & Contemporary Ghanaian Music with Kobena Aquaa-Harrison; Spinning Latin Vibes with DJ Flavia Abadia; Tina Turner hits.

Speakers’ Corner

Garlic Drug Store” medical benefits of garlic; Garlic in Close Quarters: Starting a Bio-Intensive Garden; Garlic Toast Made with Ontario Grown Grains (cooking demo); Waste Not, Want Not: Turning Food Scraps into Compost for a Bountiful Garlic Garden; Dark Desires: Unveiling the Secret Romance of Black Garlic and Chocolate (cooking demo); Our Vampires, Ourselves:the cultural significance of the vampire; Indigenous Gardening: Introducing native plants to your garden and make the urban landscape more wildlife-friendly; Craft Workshop; Garlic sketching workshop.

Garlic Lifecycle & Festival Timing 

The garlic festival should be held in the period from mid-August, after harvested garlic has cured, to end September. Hardneck garlic comes in many varieties and strains and has thrived for millennia in the northern hemisphere in a wide range of soil conditions and climates. To plant garlic the cloves are broken off the bulb and planted in the fall. The cold of winter prompts the clove to sprout after a period of dormancy under protective snow or mulch. In late spring the following year, the young plant produces delicious garlic greens. In June, the scape is removed to divert energy to the bulb. Scapes are delicious grilled or in soup. The mature plant is harvested in July and hung to cure for 2-3 weeks. Curing reduces moisture in the plant, enhancing the flavour and ensuring that bulbs can store for several months. It is for this reason that the ideal time to host a garlic harvest celebration is from mid-August to end September. Most Ontario farmers do not have frost-proof storage and therefore prefer to sell their garlic by the end of September.

Founder Peter McClusky

Since returning to Toronto from a marketing career in New York, Peter spent a year as a farm intern, which he describes in his blog and has started and managed farmers’ markets (Aberfoyle and Regent Park). He has consulted for the Greenbelt Foundation and founded Toronto Garlic Festival in 2011.¬† His book, Ontario Garlic: The Story from Farm to Festival (2015, The History Press), narrates a comprehensive social, scientific, and historical account of Allium Sativum’s journey from Central Asia to Ontario. He grows garlic and has a degree in philosophy from the University of Toronto.