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Sweet Smell of Vermont

Bennington's Funkiest Festival

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On Labor Day weekend, folks from as far away as Boston and New York City will drive north to Bennington to find out just how much Vermont stinks. Don't be offended: These brave souls like the smelly stuff. That's why they'll flock here for the 12th Annual Southern Vermont Garlic and Herb Festival.

The festival, which is co-sponsored this year by the Bennington Chamber of Commerce, wasn't always such a big deal. The first time Joy Powell and her husband, Steve Wrathall, hosted the gathering - in an effort to introduce patrons to their farm stand - about 400 people showed. "We knew nothing about events at that time," Powell explains. In 2005, the crowd numbered about 8000. A hurricane that brought heavy rain to the area dampened the numbers last year, but the 6000 people who persevered "brought rubber boots, umbrellas and cheerfulness," she assures.

As in previous years, there will be live music all weekend long, with fun for kiddies and demos and lectures for the grown-ups. But what about the nosh? Powell's list of garlicky offerings includes typical stuff such as pesto and garlic chicken, but also a few oddities: garlic ice cream, garlic margaritas and garlic brownies are all on the bill of fare. Minced or pressed? For more info, see http://www.lovegarlic.com.

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