Organizers of the ninth annual Garlic Fest are gearing up for a stinkin’ good time.

The festival returns to the Big Yellow Merville Hall on August 16th from 12:00pm to 4:00pm.

It features a variety of different garlic offered by local farmers, from mild to spicy hot.

Event coordinator Craig Freeman says his team was a little worried this year’s event would be cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We got in touch with VIHA and they said because we’re a farmers market, we can still put it on providing we follow all the COVID-19 rules that VIHA has set up,” Freeman says.

He says the festival will be “a little stripped-down” when compared to past years.

“There won’t be entertainment, there won’t be any of the inside hall usage, there won’t be food being prepared or served. We’re just anticipating people will come, do their purchases and leave.”

As garlic is a mainstay crop in the Comox Valley, growers rally around the festival each year and will have their wagons filled ready to sell raw garlic and other seasonal produce.

“The farmers are continuing to grow their crops, so they need an outlet,” Freeman adds. “They tend to grow quite a lot of garlic and people also like eating the garlic, so it’s just a way to get the two together.”

With the health of customers top of mind, organizers are asking you to observe the rules set forth regarding hand washing, mask-wearing and social distancing.

Parking will be one way this year, as drivers must enter at the north side of the site on Fenwick Road and then exit to the south onto Highway 19A.

If you’re an early bird, you’ll have to wait for the starting bell at 12:00pm before making any purchases.

For more details, vendor information or to sign up as a volunteer at this year’s festival, visit this website.