South Floridians, and especially Palm Beachers, are used to the Delray Beach Garlic Festival by now, having enjoyed its distinct aromas each spring for the past 11 years. In fact, we’re probably so used to it that its appealing novelty has already worn off. To an outsider, the idea of an annual festival devoted to garlic in a place like downtown Delray, as opposed to the fertile Midwest, is pretty cool – something to write home about, perhaps, if people still wrote home about things.
The garlic chef competitions and the unique food options take center stage at each garlic festival, and I usually find the most unconventional offerings the most memorable. Garlic ice cream always prompts a knee-jerk “Ewww…” response from those who haven’t tried it, but it’s a lot more delicious than you’d think.
I used to attend the festival regularly but have skipped the past couple of years, as it seems to have gotten pricier to attend. But I always like to keep an eye on the lineup of bands performing over the three-day festival, if for no other reason to get a peek into which artists are epitomizing the “garlic-rock” scene for any given year. Most of the national acts that have played the Garlic Festival fall under the capacious umbrella of inoffensive, radio-friendly pop-rock, including a few respectable and popular cult acts from the Gin Blossoms to the Fixx to Big Head Todd & the Monsters to the Wailers.
The main stage acts were announced last week for next year’s festival, which will take place from Feb. 11 to 13. The festival is going hippie next year, with Grateful Dead tribute act Dark Star Orchestra slated to perform for three and a half hours Feb. 11 – which means they may get through four or five songs. Another tribute band, the Led Zeppelin-covering Led Hed, will close the festival on Feb. 13.
I for one have not gotten excited about the chance to see a group cover a better band’s material for hours at a time, with the possible exception of the esteemed Beatles cover band the Fab Faux. But if that kind of thing floats your boat, there will be plenty of it next year. I’m more psyched about legendary bluesmanBuddy Guy, 74 and still tearing up stages, headlining the entertainment on Feb. 12.
For more on the 2011 Delray Beach Garlic Festival, visit its website.