The Nose Knows

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garlic in massachusetts

Ah, there’s nothing quite like the crisp air of fall in New England— cool, clean, with just a hint of … garlic?

Yes, folks, it’s time to follow your nose to Forster’s Farm on Chestnut Hill Road in Orange, where garlic reigns over a weekend of food, fun, art and environmental awareness. The North Quabbin Garlic & Arts Festival, celebrating a quarter century of aromatic enjoyment this year, is a staple of autumn in North Central Massachusetts.

Popularly known as the “Festival that Stinks,” Garlic & Arts is a fabulous family-friendly destination held just as fall foliage sets area hillsides ablaze in color. Visitors to the historic farm can wander among 100 exhibitors showcasing captivating creativity, farm-fresh products, and healing arts.

Three stages provide a perfect backdrop, with music, performance, and spoken word throughout the weekend. You can take a world tour of glorious garlic cuisine and chef demonstrations. Want more? There are over 50 workshops and talks on topics ranging from foraging for mushrooms to Getting Pumped about Heat Pumps, and Improving Habitats for Honeybees and Pollinators. How about spending time in the free kids’ art-making tent, or trying your hand at garlic games for all ages — including the famous (or infamous) garlic-heating contest?

Despite its name, there’s no doubt this festival isn’t just about fragrant food! “Orange is the new green at the festival,” its organizers say, with its local living workshops and a host of electric vehicles on display. Just how “green” is this weekend event? Would you believe that despite all the food, fun, and frivolity, the festival produces only two bags of trash for 8,000 people?

musicians at garlic and arts festival

After a brief hiatus due to the Covid pandemic, the festival has come back stronger (and more fragrant) than ever. “Twenty five years ago,” the organizers say, “we dreamed up an idea to celebrate the beauty and bounty of our region, so often-overlooked, and ignite the cultural and agricultural economy of the North Quabbin. Today, more than ever, people of all walks of life need places to come together in celebration and gain inspiration for resilient lives and communities, and a saner world.” That’s just what you’ll find at the Festival.

The flavorful event runs from 10 am to 5 pm on Saturday and Sunday, offering ample time to enjoy a taste of the region. As a twenty-fifth anniversary special, Garlic & Arts is offering half-price general admission this year—only $5 for the weekend! Kids 12 and under are admitted free. Card to Culture: EBT, WIC, and ConnectorCare cardholders can also attend free of charge. Visit for the full array of vendors, performance and workshops, parking and shuttle information. (No pets, service animals only.) Follow the festival on facebook: @North Quabbin Garlic and Arts Festival and Instagram @nqgarlicandartsfestival.

Or just breathe deeply, and let your senses lead you to Forster’s Farm.