Update at 9:40 p.m.: Garlic Fest supporters will have to wait until July to learn whether the long-running festival will be forced out of the city’s downtown.
The city commission met tonight and agreed to defer until July a vote on whether to allow the 18th annual Garlic Fest to run as scheduled in February 2017.
The commission decided more than a year ago to allow only one event per month in the city’s downtown. Garlic Fest is held in the same month as the Delray Beach Open tennis tournament, although the dates and locations do not overlap.
Commissioners have heard complaints from residents and downtown businesses about “too many and too large” events in the downtown area, said Commissioner Shelly Petrolia.
Vice-Mayor Al Jacquet agreed, adding that the issue wasn’t simply about Garlic Fest, but finding a balance in the number of events organized in the downtown to limit traffic headaches and the city’s expenses.
Deputy Vice-Mayor Jordana Jarjura and Commissioner Mitch Katz both voted to grant Garlic Fest the waiver needed hold the festival downtown in 2017, but on the condition that its coordinators would not seek the same waiver in 2018.
Ultimately, the five-member commission, absent Mayor Cary Glickstein on Tuesday night, agreed to defer the decision on Garlic Fest to the next meeting in the first week of July.
Original story: Delray Beach Garlic Fest has been a staple in the city’s downtown for more than a decade, but a commission vote tonight may change that.
The popular garlic-themed festival may be ousted from the city after a decision to limit the number the events in downtown to one per month and place stringent financial restrictions on organizers, said Nancy Stewart-Franczak, the festival’s founder.
“If they don’t want us and force us all out of town, I think they’re going to be faced with a worse reality when events head to other local cities,” Stewart-Franczak said.
She, and several fans of the festival, plan to appeal to the city commission at a meeting tonight for a waiver to allow the 18th annual Garlic Fest to run downtown in February 2017, the same month as the nationally televised Delray Beach Open tennis tournament.
The tournament and Garlic Fest don’t overlap in dates or locations, Stewart-Franczak said.
“I am very hopeful,” she said. “We’ve done a major campaign to reach out to our fans hoping for their support.”
The festival, which features live music, chef competitions, activities and, of course, garlic-based cuisine, donates proceeds to 18 different local charities and has raised more than $585,000 to date.
“Moving out of Delray is really something that I would have to look at long and hard,” Stewart-Franczak said. “This isn’t about producing a Garlic Fest, it’s about being a part of our community and giving back to our local nonprofits.”
The limit on the number of festivals and new financial guidelines are part of the city’s effort to restrict the number of road closures downtown and ensure the city recoups any losses.
In anticipation of the city rejecting Garlic Fest’s waiver, the organizers are seeking out other venues, like the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens west of Delray. Stewart-Franczak appealed to the Palm Beach County Commission for appropriate approvals to have the event at Morikami.
Though, no venues organizers have sought out so far have the appropriate infrastructure, such as hotels and parking, Stewart-Franczak said.