Binghamton Garlic Festival adds spice to Ross Park Zoo

Visitors to the American Civic Association’s Garlic Festival on Saturday in Binghamton will enjoy all of their favorite foods and flavors from past festivals, but in a whole new setting.

The 18th annual festival – a community gathering of chefs, artists and performers – moves from the Civic Association’s Front Street location where the event has been held each year to Ross Park Zoo, a partnership that coincides with the zoo’s inaugural illumination for Conservation Lantern Festival.

“This year we wanted the festival to be a little different, so we partnered with Ross Park Zoo,” said Tamar Boyajian, marketing and events coordinator for the American Civic Association. “We are thrilled to partner with them and have the event take place at their site. We anticipate greater attendance just by hosting it at the zoo.

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The Garlic Festival is the American Civic Association’s largest fundraiser.

“We are the only immigration association in the southern part, so this event will help us raise funds to help all the refugees and immigrant families who come to our community,” Boyajian said.

Are you planning to attend the festival? So get ready for all things garlic, including ice cream.

Festival-goers benefit from a reduced rate on zoo events

The festival will run from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the two pavilions under the parking lot on the right side of the zoo entrance at 60 Morgan Road.

Tickets are sold at the door and cost $5 for adults and $2 for children 10 and under.

Fans of the Garlic Festival will also get a special discount on tickets to the Lantern Festival, which features more than 40 nature-themed lantern sculptures all around the zoo. The Illumination for Conservation event runs until October 15.

Garlic is the focal point of the American Civic Association's annual Garlic Festival, which returns on Saturday.

From spiedies to sausage, garlic is the star

Food is a major attraction at the Garlic Festival and there will be no shortage of choice at stalls operated by the American Civic Association and independent vendors.

Unsurprisingly, garlic will be a featured flavor.

“We have all kinds of garlic foods. However, we can incorporate garlic, we do our best to do so,” Boyajian said.

This includes ice cream, a delicacy Boyajian plans to sample.

“I’ve never tried it. Can you believe it? I can’t wait to try it,” she said.

Are tastes turning towards more conventional dishes? There will be chicken spies, garlic sausages, barbecued burgers and hot dogs, and garlic-centric offerings from many other cultures, including Jamaican cuisine, organizers said.

The festival will feature multicultural music, games, prizes

Entertainment will include live performances from guitarists, bass players and other instrumentalists, while singers, Irish folk dancers and a DJ will provide plenty of multicultural music.

A bouncy house for children, games, raffles, prizes and more will help create a festive atmosphere.

Also look for vendors selling crafts, clothing, jewelry, pottery and more.

The American Civic Association is taking a wait-and-see approach to whether the zoo can become the permanent home of the Garlic Festival.

“It’s the first time we’ve done it with them, let’s see how it goes,” Boyajian said. “We think positive. We have high hopes. If it goes well and if it’s better, why not do it again next year?

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