The Lower Nicola Community Association is looking to spice things up once again, with the organization bringing back its annual Lower Nicola Garlic Festival event. Attendees will once again be able to enjoy their garlic ice cream while perusing the stalls, live music, and other attractions the festival has to offer. 

The Garlic Festival has been a Lower Nicola and Merritt community staple for years, outgrowing its original home in the backyard of its organizers home and now setting up annually at Smith Pioneer Park. Garlic has long united the small unincorporated community, and grows in the gardens of many Lower Nicola residents, according to festival organizers.

“There’s a lot of garlic growers out here, and a man by the name of Pete Ratzlaff used to have the festival in his backyard, but it got too big,” said Karen Knapp, one of the organizers of the festival.

“He came to us and asked if we could start having it in the park, which we did of course. Any proceeds from the festival and the Lower Nicola concession go towards ensuring that Lower Nicola’s community hall stays open.” 

The Lower Nicola Community Association took over the event upon Ratzlaff’s passing, hoping to continue the community gathering and keep the tradition alive. The event takes place annually at Smith Pioneer Park, a small TNRD community park on Aberdeen Road. It has happened annually for decades, but the past two years saw organizers put the Garlic Festival on hold as a precaution for the COVID-19 pandemic. 

This year’s festival, similar to previous years, will have live music, food and product vendors, a concession, a tractor pull competition, and classic cars on display. The 2022 Lower Nicola Garlic Festival will also feature an illusionist for the first time. 

“It’s good because it’s really the only thing Lower Nicola has as a community event. It’s nice to bring the community back to Smith Pioneer Park,” added  Knapp.

“There’s a huge variety of vendors, and some of them are from out of town so you get some unique ones in there. Being able to have live music and the magician for the kids, we’re making it fun for the young children and the older people.”

Funds raised by the Garlic Festival pay the expenses for the event, and stay in the community. The Lower Nicola Community Association is a non-profit organization, and is actively looking for volunteers. For more information on the Garlic Festival, including lineups and event times, visit www.lowernicolacommunity.com/garlic-market.