Garlic, Onions And Slugs: It's Festival Time

As natives and newcomers know, we take our lattes seriously here in the Pacific Northwest.

Likewise, we're serious about garlic, onions, bears, slugs and Roslyn, site of the popular television show "Northern Exposure."

So it shouldn't come as a surprise to learn that entire summer festivals are planned around these subjects.

-- The annual Northwest Garlic Festival is scheduled June 20-21 at Ocean Park, 10 miles north of Long Beach on the Long Beach Peninsula.

Population: about 7,000.

Drive from Seattle: about four hours.

Enter the garlic-eating and garlic-peeling contests, or the recipe contest. Breezes from the Pacific should blow away your breath, but don't worry about it. In this community it's considered chic to reek.

At the 65 festival booths you can enjoy delicacies such as garlic-cheese doughnuts, chocolate-covered garlic and garlic ice cream, or purchase dolls with heads sculpted from garlic bulbs.

Festival hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. June 20; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. June 21.

Call 1-800-451-2542 for more information.

-- If you prefer that other odoriferous bulb, head for the annual Walla Walla Sweet Onion Harvest Festival July 12 in southeastern Washington.

Population: 26,478.

Drive from Seattle: about 5 hours.

Events are from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Fort Walla Walla Park.

You can try the onion-eating or onion-slicing contests; the onion sack or relay races, and the onion ring toss.

Entertainment includes the Washington State Oldtime Fiddlers, Traveling Country Cloggers, Tri-Cities Fiddle Kids, the Blue Mountain Duetsche Dancers and others.

Other weekend activities include the Fort Walla Walla Mountain Man Rendezvous, an Indian-style salmon bake and a musical, "My Fair Lady."

For more information, call 1-800-743-9562.

-- If you're hungry as a bear, try the annual McCleary Bear Festival July 17, 18 and 19 in Grays Harbor County.

Population: 1,235.

Drive from Seattle: about two hours.

Several decades ago a McCleary newspaper editor boasted that bears tasted better in McCleary. An editor in Skamania County, to the south, disagreed. The result was a bear-stew cookoff.

Look for costumed bears everywhere, including the noon parade and the 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. dance July 18, and the salmon bake at 3 p.m. July 19.

Bear stew is included with the purchase of a $2 festival button and is served immediately after the parade.

For more information, call 1-206-495-3200.

-- Don't want to go near the bears? Wait a week and attend the Elma Slug Festival July 24 and 25, also in Grays Harbor County.

Population: 3,011.

Drive time from Seattle: about two hours.

Slug racing in July is about as exciting as it gets here. Main Street is the place for races on both July 24 and 25, from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. The winners don't get cruises to faraway places or free dinners at big city restaurants. They get good, old-fashioned certificates.

Check out the talent show and the "Battle of the Bands" competition from 7 p.m. on July 24.

The parade on Main Street begins at 11 a.m. July 25.

Buy a slug sucker (chocolate mint) or a slug (soap) on a rope from a local vendor.

For more information, call 1-206-482-3055.

-- Take a first-hand look at the old mining town of Roslyn, which stands in for the Alaskan village of Cicely on the TV series "Northern Exposure."

The annual Roslyn Wing Ding is Sept. 5, 6 and 7 in Kittitas County.

Population: 869.

Drive from Seattle: about 1 hour, 45 minutes.

Elaine Miles, a Native American who plays Marilyn Whirlwind on "Northern Exposure," will be grand marshal for the parade at noon Sept. 6.

Don't arrive late, cautions Tom Blair, proprietor of Roslyn's Pennsylvania Station cafe on the town's main street. The parade lasts only 20 to 40 minutes.

Check out the 7 p.m. dance Sept. 5 to see whether bush pilot Maggie O'Connell (Janine Turner) and Dr. Joel Fleischman (Rob Morrow) do the tango. Or are we dreaming?

For more information call 1-509-649-2756, which is really Pennsylvania Station cafe, better known as Delores' Beauty Salon in "Northern Exposure."