The three-day celebration, organized by the North Plains Events Association, begins Friday, Aug. 10.

STAFF PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER OERTELL - Of course you can buy large bulbs of elephant garlic to try for yourself at the North Plains Elephant Garlic Festival.For the 21st year, the North Plains Elephant Garlic Festival will bring fun and festivities to the downtown area of North Plains from Friday, Aug. 10, through Sunday, Aug. 12.

Admittedly, it's a funny name for a festival. The annual celebration had its genesis in North Plains Days, but about 22 years ago, event coordinator Patti Burns said, a local farmer named Bob Gnos approached organizers with the idea of incorporating into this event his staple crop: elephant garlic.

Elephant garlic, as Burns explained, is not actually garlic at all.

"It's called elephant garlic, but it's really in the leek family," Burns said.

As its name suggests, elephant garlic is considerably larger than true garlic — about three times its size, in fact, comparing the bulbs of both plants. It has a milder, less "spicy" flavor, Burns said.

Although the event is called the Elephant Garlic Festival, true garlic will also be featured at food stands, Burns said, and most of the three-day celebration isn't actually garlic-related at all.

STAFF PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER OERTELL - Five-year-old June Vandehey bites into an ear of corn during the North Plains Elephant Garlic Festival last year.The Elephant Garlic Festival kicks off at noon Friday with arts and crafts vendors, food, a beer and wine garden, a kids area, and a book sale at Jessie Mays Community Hall to support the North Plains Public Library.

Marianne Vandervelden, book sale coordinator with the Friends of the North Plains Public Library, promised that the three-day book, CD and DVD sale — it coincides with all three days of the Elephant Garlic Festival — will offer "something for every age group," with most items being sold for $2 or less.

"We have approximately 1,500 books," Vandervelden said in an email. "Nonfiction includes cookbooks, gardening, history, biography, science, arts and more. There is always a good selection of children's books. Adults can choose from popular author, sci-fi, fantasy, westerns, mystery and more."

Outside at Jessie Mays Community Park, about 70 vendors have committed to this year's event, selling a variety of attractive arts and crafts, said Burns.

"They sell all kinds of handmade items," Burns said. "We don't allow commercial items, so everything's handmade."

Meanwhile, the beer and wine garden will feature live music on all three days. Burns said 13 bands have been lined up this year, including country and rock artists.

The marquee events of the Elephant Garlic Festival are on the second and third days.

On Saturday morning, Aug. 11, half-marathon, 10K and 5K runs will begin at Jessie Mays Community Park. The runs are organized by the Oregon Road Runners Club.

The early start time for the half-marathon is 7 a.m., with the 10K starting at 8 a.m. and the 5K beginning at 8:15 a.m. Day-of registration begins at 6 a.m., with preregistration available on the club's website.

The 5K run will essentially make a loop around the city center of North Plains. The 10K and half-marathon courses stretch further out into the rural areas north and west of North Plains, with half-marathon runners completing two loops.

Following the running events, the festival's signature parade will begin at 10 a.m., traveling down Main and Commercial streets in downtown North Plains; 10 a.m. is also the start time for the second day of the book sale; arts, crafts and food sales; and the beer and wine garden.

As with the previous day, festival grounds don't open until 10 a.m. Sunday, Burns said. However, community members can get an early start on the day with a pancake breakfast at the North Plains Senior Center, located at 31450 N.W. Commercial St., from 8 to 11 a.m.

From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., a car show will be staged on Commercial Street, outside the senior center. That event will be a little different this year, as it is being put on by the Farm Rodders, a new participant in festival planning.

Anyone with a car or truck they would like to show off is welcome to participate, Burns said.

"It's a cruise-in, so there's no charge for it," she said.

Advance registration isn't even required, Burns added. If you want to display your vehicle, show up Sunday morning, turn onto Commercial Street from Main Street, and get lined up and parked between 9 and 10 a.m.

Also from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue Station 17 at 31370 N.W. Commercial St. will hold an open house, Burns said.

Festival grounds are open from noon to 11 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.

The main grounds for the festival is Jessie Mays Community Park, located at 30975 N.W. Hillcrest St. in the heart of North Plains.

The Elephant Garlic Festival is organized by the North Plains Events Association with support from the City of North Plains.

"It's a good, family-friendly event," Burns said, adding, "The kids are welcome to come in and listen and dance to the music as well."

She remarked, "We've got new food vendors this year and a lot of new art vendors as well. … Everything has a little bit of a new twist to it this year."STAFF PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER OERTELL - Alivia Eastman and Maddi Jones sell 50/50 raffle tickets to help raise money for their school's wrestling equipment during the North Plains Elephant Garlic Festival last year.

By Mark Miller
Editor, Forest Grove News-Times
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