When you think of garlic, you probably think of vampires and Italian food, right? Well, I know I sure do at least.

But even though the first mental whiff of this pungent little pal, whose proper name is Allium sativum, might tend to conjure images of the Mediterranean mainland and ancient Romania, it's actually native to Southern and Central Asia, as well as northeastern Iran, but has proliferated in popularity all around the globe and is now grown in many locations worldwide.

It's very easy to see why garlic has become such a sensation with human beings just about everywhere on Planet Earth, because not only is it considered one of the tastiest flavor enhancers for foods of all types (there's even a well know and widely loved garlic ice cream flavor!), but it also possesses many healthy benefits for the human body as well.

For starters, garlic is high in fiber, vitamin B6, vitamin C, manganese, and selenium, which are all things our bodies need to stay well and feel great!

In addition, garlic can be used to protect against illnesses like the flu and the common cold, and has been used as far back as ancient Egyptian, Roman, and Grecian times to heal sickness and strengthen the immune system.

But garlic's positive impacts on our physical wellness don't stop there! This bulbous little buddy has also been documented to reduce blood pressure, improve cholesterol levels, and it contains several powerful antioxidants that can help in preventing dementia and Alzheimer's Disease, and just flat out live a longer and better life!

Why garlic has even been heralded as a performance-enhancing supplement used by high-level athletes, is known to assist with helping to purge the human body of heavy metals, and also improves bone density and overall skeletal health. So the fact that it's also legendary for keeping the bloodsucking legions of the undead away from us too is just additional bonus ;-).

Garlic is celebrated all over the world for all of these things and more, but mostly for just being so damn tasty!

There are garlic festivals and celebrations all over the world, including one that's well renown here in the United States that happens in Gilroy, California every year.

But did you know there's also a big party for garlic that takes place annually right here in North Central Washington?

That's right! The small town of Tonasket in Okanogan County has its Garlic Festival every summer. And this year's event will be held on August 26 and 27 at History Park.

The festival always features plenty of local garlic growers and vendors with an array of garlic-themed and -flavored products, along with live music, fresh food, a cider garden, benefit raffle, and educational classes on growing, braiding, and cooking with...what else?...garlic!

So circle the dates on your calendar now and get ready to head to beautiful Tonasket for the annual Tonasket Garlic Festival on the fourth weekend of August.

And as always, all vampires are more than welcome ;-}!

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