Stop and smell the garlic in North Plains
It is no secret that thousands of people attend the North Plains Elephant Garlic Festival every year, and for those that haven't yet, it is not too late to turn out for the weekend many look forward to in Washington County.
Since the second week of July, the garlic harvest has been in full swing. To celebrate, from Friday, Aug. 9, to Sunday, Aug. 11, about 25,000 people are expected to attend the annual festival. That's more than 10 times the population of North Plains, a few miles up Northwest Glencoe Road from Hillsboro.
This year's theme is "Stop and Smell the Garlic," and Patti Burns, the coordinator for the town's largest event of the year, said that there's a reason the festival brings in big crowds.
"The field was never completely full, but now it will be," Burns said. "That is what you want in a festival, is to grow and expand it. With our food, we have a lot more garlic items. We really will have a lot of garlic."
Burns is excited about the amount of art vendors with their handmade goods that will be featured. Since last year, 15 more have signed up, bringing the amount up to 80 arts and craft vendors.
And for all the garlic lovers, expect even more garlic-flavored food than before, Burns said.
Meet longtime growers
Shawn and Jerry Loughridge own and operate Loughridge Farms in Hillsboro, one of the longtime vendors featured at the festival.
The Loughridges, like many garlic farmers, have been busy prepping the garlic in time for the festival this summer. Many people are not sure on how to use their garlic, and Shawn said she loves dishing out advice.
"Italian garlic has a shelf life of about six to nine months, but the biggest question people ask is 'How come when I bought it in the grocery store, after I come home it is all puffy and flat?'" Shawn Loughridge. "Knowing that it has a shelf life, depending on the variety, the best thing is to teach people how to process it so it has a shelf life year-round. I do that by cleaning the cloves and cracking it open and peeling the cloves to bare, and dropping them in a food processor and drizzle in olive oil. Then put it in the freezer. It'll last a year for you."
Fourth-generation farmers, the couple have grown and sold garlic among other offerings for more than 30 years together. Shawn Loughridge taught in the Hillsboro School District for decades while managing the farm with her husband, which she now does full-time.
"I enjoy getting the word out about elephant garlic," Shawn Loughridge said. "This festival is a great way to learn about it, and all the other Italian types of garlic that go with it. We have customers that come back year after year, and it is rewarding to get to know people. This has built up our little business up really well."
Before you go
Highlights of the festival range from the parade, beginning at 10 a.m. on Saturday down Main Street and Commercial Street, to food, beer, wine and craft vendors on site all weekend.
A packed entertainment schedule with local bands like Got Yer 6, Joy Ride and singer-songwriters like Sarah McMahon can be caught all weekend.
At 8 a.m. on Saturday, the Oregon Road Runners Club hosts its 10k and 5k beginning at Jessie Mays, with registration found at orrc.net. Not into running? Catch the annual pancake breakfast at North Plains Senior Center, 31450 N.W. Commercial St.
Located at Jessie Mays Community Park, 30975 N.W. Hillcrest St., North Plains, the festival starts at noon on Friday and runs until 11 p.m. On Saturday, the hours are 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Sunday, the last day, runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission is free, although dogs are not permitted.
Last Tuesday, the garlic festival in Gilroy, California, was targeted by a mass shooter.
In North Plains, starting last month, law enforcement services are provided by the Washington County Sheriff's Office under contract with the city, similar to how the Sheriff's Office staffs the police force in Cornelius, Banks and Gaston. Sheriff's deputies will be on hand to provide security at the Elephant Garlic Festival.
"North Plains joined with Washington County, so we will have them all there," Burns said.
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