Delray Garlic Fest moves to Palm Beach County’s John Prince Park

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By: Marisa Gottesman Associate Editor
Want to attend Garlic Fest in 2017? You will have to go to Palm Beach County’s John Prince Park in suburban Lake Worth.
Event producer Nancy Stewart decided to take her event to a new city for its 18th year. Garlic Fest will take place from Feb. 10 to Feb. 12 in the 726-acre park. The event starts at 5 p.m. Friday and the Garlic will flow until 7 p.m. Sunday.
The event will continue its focus on culinary creations centered on garlic, live music and volunteer involvement with its 550 volunteers from 18 nonprofits.
For Delray, that means one less event. For Old School Square is means a $30,000 loss the nonprofit would have received for hosting the event.
The decision to move the event after 18 years wasn’t an easy one. Before the decision was made, Stewart and her group filed an appeal to city commissioners to host the 2017 in February.
The event was denied by city staff because it violated a new proposed city rule, which prevents two major events from taking place in one month. A tennis tournament was already on the calendar for February, which is when Garlic Fest was scheduled to take place.
Oddly, commissioners heard the appeal before they took a vote on an overall recommendation from a committee on how the city should handle all aspects of special events.
Only Mayor Cary Glickstein raised the point that the appeal came before the rule was put into place by commissioners.
Those new rules are supposed to appear on a city commission meeting this month to be voted on.
After the Garlic Fest debate, commissioners urged City Manager Don Cooper to get the topic on an agenda to be discussed.
“We need to have an events discussion ASAP,” Commissioner Jordana Jarjura said. “We need to provide clarity and direction a final code revision.”
Mayor Cary Glickstein said he wants a lot of the focus on special events to focus on the grounds of Old School Square.
“The commission is not looking to get rid of events,” he said. “The town is a different town. We have to make changes. I think the bigger part of the conversation that we haven’t focused on enough is how we are going to treat Old School Square.”
He said the city needs to decide if it is going to treat the grounds as a historic property.
“This was never about Garlic Fest,” he said. “This was about timing and location. We have done a bad job at managing our assets as it is. How we have treated Old School Square is perverse.”
The special events proposal that commissioners will review will likely include suggestions proposed in March including adopting an overall events policy, limiting events to one major event per month and charging event producers more so the city doesn’t lose money.
Figures proposed for special events so far have raised concern for some commissioners who think the costs may be too steep.
The Delray Newspaper outlined some costs in its July edition. Many events would triple or quadruple in cost.
Because of the uncertainty in how much a special event will actually cost, what applying for a city sponsorship means and what it would cover is undetermined, event producers say it is difficult to plan an event.
Commissioners said they want the cost aspect of special events to be looked at again before they vote on any policy.