Craig Bakay | Sep 09, 2020

The Verona Lions Garlic Festival went on as planned Saturday, albeit as a somewhat downsized and more social-distanced version of what has gone on in the past.

For one thing, there was a limit of 100 patrons allowed on the grounds at any one given time. There was also no food service or music and the traditional garlic competition was shelved for this year.

But organizers were very pleased with the way things turned out nonetheless.

“I’m glad we did this,” said Doreen Morey, chief among the organizers. “We couldn’t have asked for better day — or a better crowd.

“The vendors are happy,”

Indeed they were. The event turned out to be a big farmers market, where garlic was the featured attraction.

“Many vendors sold out,” Morey said. “One guy had to call his kids to bring more garlic out and Barb’s Perogies had to do the same thing.

“She sold out twice.”

As for the crowd, Morey couldn’t have been more complimentary.

“We had about 90 people lined up at 9 a.m. when we opened up,” she said. “And there were a few lineups later in the day (to keep the crowd under 100) but not many and they weren’t long.

“And there may have been three or four people without masks but mostly everybody had their masks on and they didn’t congregate or anything like that.

“Essentially they came in to get what they came for and left after they got it.”

Admission was by donation and as people came in, they were offered hand sanitizer and asked for their phone number just in case any contact tracing might be necessary down the road.

“We tried to do everything we could to make it as safe as we could,” Morey said. “But nobody has had a negative thing to say.”

She said people were telling her this was the only garlic-themed festival this year.

“People were saying what I’d been thinking all along, that many fall events were cancelled back in April,” she said. “I wanted to wait as long as I possibly could — until three or four weeks before the event — before cancelling.

“And I’m glad I did.”

She said her only regrets were that they couldn’t offer any meals, there was no music, and of course that the competition didn’t happen.

“My music guy wanted to come,” she said. “But I’m not sure music would have been that big a draw for this year’s event.

“And as far as the competition goes, well, it would have been too much for me this year.

“But it will be back next year and re-branded as the Paul Pospisil Awards.”

And last year’s winners, Dorothy and Viren Oogarah of Wagar Oogarah Farms, said they’ll definitely be back for that.

“Everything we know about garlic, we learned from Paul,” Dorothy said. “He was an amazing man and we miss him.”

“I did his funeral,” said Viren. “Mary Lou called us the day he died and asked us.”

As for this year’s version, the Oogarahs said they were very pleased.

“I was surprised at the turnout, and at how well organized it is,” Dorothy said. “This is the only festival we’ve done this year.

“I’ve had people call and email asking for garlic and we’ve done some sales that way but nothing to this extent.”

She said their biggest sellers this year have been planting bulbs.

“A lot of people have been planting garlic this year,” she said. “One lady told me she’s planting it in her flower beds.”

And since this was a Lions fundraiser (which they need for upkeep on the building and grounds), there were plenty of Lions around doing whatever needed to be done.

Frank York said his job was to do a study on whether or not there should be garlic-scented hand sanitizer.

“A lot of people had the same answer,” he said. “That it was ‘stupid.’

“But one guy told me that after make the rounds here, he already had garlic-scented hand sanitizer.”

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