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Town board: Garlic fest passes smell test

Everyone will come, except the vampires. What else would one expect at a garlic festival?

Held every year for the past decade at the Garden of Eve organic farm in Riverhead, the festival has grown into a two-day event dedicated to "the wonders of 'garliciana,' " according to Pam Demarest, manager of the farm market.

The Riverhead Town Board voted 5-0 Tuesday to approve a permit for the festival, which is scheduled to run from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sept. 21 and 22.

Demarest said that last year, between 2,000 and 3,000 people came out each day to watch garlic-eating contests, swap recipes, buy garlic plants and shop for organic foods grown on the East End. She promised at least eight different kinds of garlic.

Billed as Long Island's only garlic festival, the event features a garlic-eating contest each afternoon, for which contestants can preregister through the farm's website -- Participants will vie for a $100 cash prize and gifts.

The rules require contestants to hand-peel their own garlic clove. Spitting anything out is an automatic disqualification. They will have five minutes to eat the cloves, and any garlic in their mouth at the end of five minutes will count, as long as it is eventually swallowed.

Before they compete, contestants must sign a waiver certifying they are medically capable, that they recognize five minutes of eating garlic can lead to indigestion and "getting very stinky and possibly not being kissed for possibly 48 hours afterward . . . "

It's the second year for the contest.

"I took part in it myself last year. I definitely did not win . . . it's tougher than you think," said Eve Kaplan-Walbrecht, who owns the farm.

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