OCEAN PARK - Plans for this year's Northwest Garlic Festival are in high gear. The entertainment is booked, vendor applications continue to arrive at the Ocean Park Area Chamber of Commerce and Wilson Field, also known as Beach Barons' car show field on Sandridge Road, is ready and waiting.
The festival has been a hit since it was started by Nanci Main and Jimella Lucas and held in the back lot of the Ark Restaurant in 1981. Eight years later, the Ocean Park Area Chamber of Commerce was asked to take it over and they have sponsored it since. It's a big draw for Ocean Park.
It's not just locals that attend. Mary Peterson of the chamber said that previous tracking of festival-goers' zip codes has revealed that attendees also come from Astoria, Vancouver, Portland and the Seattle area.
Vendors come from a number of areas to set up their tents or booths. This year, some will come from as far as Bellingham and Wenatchee. Peterson said, "Last year, we had 64 vendors. This year, we hope to have more. We're working on it. We're peddling fast. We're getting a nice variety - foods, jewelry, sunglasses, binoculars, telescopes, lots of handcrafted items and a variety of clothing." Local artists, many associated with Peninsula Arts Association, will have a variety of booths. And, of course, there will be an abundance of garlic-laced foods and hard-to-find spices and condiments.
Fit for families, this year's festival will have a bounce house for kids and a face painter for kids of all ages. And, because admission is free, it will be doable for anyone with the desire to attend.
Peterson said that the entertainment starts each morning with Pan Man Terry Baber, playing Caribbean music on steel drums. For more than 30 years, he has performed professionally, with music ranging from reggae to big band and from the blues to cartoon music. Those wanting a preview can view him on YouTube.
Buoy 10 Band will perform each afternoon. Peterson said, "They'll be playing just about anything and everything." This band features Tom Trudell, Clint Carter, Ron Heying (all from the Long Beach Peninsula), bassist Dennis Yalch of Longview and John Arevalo, former lead guitarist for the Righteous Brothers. They play everything from blues and soft rock to classic rock and an occasional disco tune.
The Clove Brothers will return this year. Peterson said, "They were also at the Kiddie Parade in Ilwaco on May 1st."
Food booths will be plentiful and Peterson said there will be picnic tables and benches set up for those who wish dine on the variety of cuisine offered. She suggested that people who want to spend time kicking back and listening to the performers might consider bringing lawn chairs to be sure everyone has a place to sit.
Festival organizers are saying, "Abandon your mouthwash and head for the coast. It's chic to reek - of garlic that is."
And as they have said for years at the Gilroy, Calif., Garlic Festival, "Reek out and touch someone."