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Garlic Fest puts down roots in Lake Worth

Jose Herrera feels no shame in admitting his new lemon-pepper-garlic beer will probably stink. He’s counting on it.

StinKey lager, brewed by the Islamorada Beer Company in Islamorada, is punched with lemon wedges, black pepper and garlic cloves, a cocktail of pungent flavors that leaves Herrera feeling nervous.  

“We’ve never brewed a beer like this,” says Herrera, one of four founders of Islamorada, which is nearly finished fermenting the new brew. “We work with easy-drinking beers. All of these flavors are over-the-top.”

Good thing that over-the-top and smelly is how they roll at South Florida Garlic Fest, which returns Friday, Feb. 10, and runs through Feb. 12 at John Prince Park in Lake Worth. Herrera’s craft beer, to be served free in 2-ounce pours, will be in similar company at Gourmet Alley, a row of 80 food vendors slinging garlic ice cream, shrimp scampi and other clove-infused dishes in the park.

For it’s 18th anniversary, the South Florida Garlic Fest (formerly called Delray Beach Garlic Fest) leaves behind its longtime home in downtown Delray Beach for the 726-acre John Prince Park. The festival grounds, four times larger than the festival’s longtime home at Old School Square, offers room for expansion, Garlic Fest founder Nancy Stewart says.

“Our old site was like trying to fit 10 pounds of garlic into a 5-pound sack. We outgrew it years ago,” says Stewart, whose festival benefits 18 Palm Beach County nonprofits. “We know people are expecting big things because we have a bigger space. We’re trying to showcase things we never had the room to do before.”

Stewart says the festival left Delray Beach in July after the city passed a restriction that permits only one large festival along its popular Atlantic Avenue drag per month. The Delray Beach Tennis Open takes place the same month as Garlic Fest. So it headed for Lake Worth instead.

Garlic Fest this year expands to 200 vendors scattered around the park, along with carnival and midway rides. Also returning is Garlic Chef Stadium, a showdown where local chefs prepare their best garlic-stuffed menu items. On the main stage, South African alt-rockers Kongos will headline Friday’s bill of music, while hip-hop-reggae act Michael Franti and Spearhead will perform Saturday. 

Because of the park’s size, Stewart says, RV camping will be allowed. Also new is “RV World,” a display of nine RVs; and a Football Pong tournament (like beer pong, but with miniature footballs and Solo cups) to benefit Prep and Sports, a Delray Beach nonprofit helping at-risk youth.

The South Florida Garlic Fest will take place 5-11 p.m. Friday, Feb. 10; 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 11; and 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 12, at John Prince Park, 4759 S. Congress Ave., in Lake Worth. Admission is $10-$20. Parking is free at the Palm Beach State College campus across the street, and it’s $5-$10 in John Prince Park. Free shuttles will pick up passengers at the college and Lake Worth TriRail station. Call 561-279-0907 or go to or 954-356-4364


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