Vampire hunting? Not quite.
Spent the last couple of weeks in and out of Perth County. A third trip may be on the horizon. Started going to the Stratford Festival (sorry, have to call it The Stratford Shakespeare Festival now) five years ago and every year spied the posters for The Garlic Festival. Garlic? How do you create a festival around garlic? Time to find out.
Stratford's Fest takes place second week in September. As seems to be the norm for me and travel, started the day with heavy rain. Not just any rain-monsoon like conditions that necessitate driving with the hazards on in what would be the equivalent of a white out if it were any later in the year. I have to say there's not much 403/401 traffic at 7 AM on a Saturday.
Always have grief at Woodstock. One has the choice to take 59, 6 or 119 going North.
59 changes names five times and runs N, NW, N, W and then N again. Southbound is not an issue. The thing is I'm always right but I second guess myself and wind up driving all over creation.
Festival admission is $5 and there is free parking. The rain stopped for a few hours which was a welcome relief. It is advisable to arrive early in order to get the best selection. It helps to have someone with you who knows what they're doing-which I had. We made a beeline for an organic vendor- Golden Acres Farms from Gadshill (Northeast of Stratford). Very nice presentation. Clean, fully cured bulbs; 120 varieties. The bulbs come labelled so you know what you're getting.
I think we're all guilty of buying the little white Made In China bulbs from the grocery store. Try your local farmers' market and Fall festival/fairs for Ontario grown bulbs. I have it on very good authority that the garlic will keep upwards of one year. Keep them in a basket on your countertop to let them breath. A little research may be in order to make full use of the bulbs. Some are better in salads; some are better cooked.
The festival has numerous vendors-garlic only, garlic based product (sausage, salsa, fudge-don't knock it 'til you tried it) and seasonal goods/other (jams, crafts, cookbooks etc.). Lots of free samples. Enjoyed the apple topped with cheddar and a slice of garlic and lavender jam. Picked up bison sausage from Blanbrook Farms. Very lean, very dense meat. Hands were full so no chance for pics.
Expect garlic breath. Do bring mints with you if you're at all self conscious.
Also, bring a cooler and ice packs with you.
Took in one of the cooking demos. Chef D, who is apparently somewhere on CTV, cooked up garlic veggie soup and Caesar salad. I have to say though that instead of the garlic soup he was going for, we felt we had nutmeg soup on our hands. Over seasoned. The salad was good though. Try Grapeseed oil instead of olive oil.
The rain came heavy and we decided to head out for lunch. After some Marx Brothers moments finding cars and each other, tucked into some local fare at Bentley's on Ontario Street. Good quiche. After, we made our way down the road to Shakespeare Pies. Good quality savoury and dessert pies. They also sell cheese from Gordon's Goat Dairy who are out between Wingham and Brussels.
Double backed to town to pick up bulbs for the garden(the squirrel shall rue the day it digs up my lawn)and for the coffee fix. Managed to squeeze in a slice of Reece's Pieces cake (to fortify myself for the afternoon drive). I may or may not have indulged myself at Wuerth's Shoes. The annual end of season sale purchase. I won't tell if you won't.
Definitely recommend the Stratford Garlic Fest. Too bad about the weather. Please try a Fall Festival in your neighbourhood and support your local farmers.
The Toronto Garlic Festival runs the weekend of October 12. Admission is $10
Headed East and turned right at the first barn I saw. Road 109. Nothing but farms for miles.
The cows were grazing but this one stopped for a moment to size me up and, deeming me not to be a threat, obliged me with a photo.
At 109 and Perth Rd 33 is an old cemetery opposite the now disused Evangelical United from 1874.
Grounds are still maintained but some of the gravestones are quietly disappearing into the earth. Drove on 33 to 107 and found a second cemetery at Sebastopol. Spoke to the farmer across the street who invited me to use his property to take in the clock tower of the church.
Having explained what I was up to in the church yard, he suggested I double back Northeast. He had just been down to maintain one of the earliest Catholic churches in the area and he thought I might like to see it.
Made the left, made the right and thought I'd gone completely wrong because I drove for miles surrounded by nothing but fields and farmyards. Times like this I feel like the characters in "Mrs Todd's Shortcut" by Stephen King.
And there it was. The church has no name, no plaque, nothing to indicate denomination. Grounds are maintained and the church is in wonderful shape. Looks to be Irish surnames.
Picked out Punkeydoodles Corners on the map. I blinked and missed it. County Roads 5 to 8 and down Hubbard to escape the traffic. Saw a sign for The Walters Family dinner theatre of all things. Hubbard is a quiet, secluded road and the last thing I was expecting was dinner theatre. Apparently, it has quite a following with professional acts performing throughout the year (concerts and plays).
Hubbard turns East then South and continues onto Oxford 29. Beware road numbers. You have to keep in mind what county you're in. Line roads and county roads are all duplicates of each other.
The pies and sausage were quietly thawing and after twelve hours on the go, it was time to find the highway.
Next time: Culture and Corn.