Garlic burgers and garlic pizza have been the most popular foods at past festivals. Photo by Scott Higgins

Garlic burgers and garlic pizza have been the most popular foods at past festivals. Photo by Scott Higgins


Asian garlic noodles. Corn on the cob with garlic butter. Roasted garlic slathered on toasted sourdough with a dab of butter.

Sensing a theme here? For the fourth year in a row, fans of the “stinking rose” will converge at Third Street Park on Labor Day weekend for the Bloomington Garlic Fest & Community Art Fair. Attendees can shop for local art, groove to live music, and consume garlic in practically every form imaginable.

“I just love garlic,” says founder and organizer David Cox with a laugh. Having spent part of his childhood in Beirut, Lebanon, he became accustomed to the taste. “Everything there is slathered with garlic,” he says.

Though this year’s lineup of food purveyors is not yet definite, past participants have included Lennie’s, Bloomingfoods, and Feast Bakery Cafe. Each booth must have at least one food item costing $3 or less. “It lets everyone have something to eat without breaking the bank,” says Cox.

Garlic burgers and pizza have been mainstays in the past, though things get really creative at the cooking contest, which has divisions for both children and adults. “Somebody made a garlic-lime sherbet last year that was absolutely to die for,” says Cox.

The festival will include artwork for sale from approximately 40 artists, up from 22 last year, says Cox. Most will be from Bloomington, though this year he may allow artists from around the state or even from farther afield.

Stormcellar, an Australian band, is the featured entertainment, to be joined by local musicians The Dynamics, playing funk, rock, and soul, and Curtis Cantwell Jackson, performing reggae-rock.

There will be a beer garden available for adults, while children can explore the Kidzone for face painting and instruction in growing garlic. “We’re trying to promote healthy eating and good food,” says Cox. “We teach kids about growing stuff from the farm to your plate.”

The art portion of the festival will run from 10 a.m.–5 p.m. on Saturday, September 5, with music from 11 a.m.–10 p.m. On September 6, art sales run from 10 a.m–4 p.m. and music from 11 a.m.–8 p.m.

For more information, see