Wilkeson soda shop hosts seventh annual Goats and Garlic Festival

Simple Goodness Sisters started out as a garlic farm before slinging its own simple syrups

Applegate and Inchelium Red, German White and Porcelain — oh, and baby goats.

Different varieties of garlic will be for sale at the seventh-annual Goats and Garlic Festival at the Simple Goodness Sisters Soda Shop in Wilkeson this weekend, Aug. 12, not to mention a small petting zoo with cuddly creatures.

The free event begins at noon and goes to 4 p.m, with live music almost all the way; make sure to stop by around 2 p.m. for a class on how to grow garlic, hosted by soda shop co-owner and farmer Venise Cunningham.

For those who can’t attend the class, here’s a tip: “Buy your seed now and plant in the fall around Halloween,” Cunningham said. “Garlic needs cold weather to divide and lots of time to grow so plant in the fall, mulch and then forget about it until spring.”

Selling their crops will be the Simple Goodness farm with garlic, garlic braids, and various herbs and spices; Money Motion Farm with garlic, shallots, and other produce; Gramma Bertas Pantry with canned goods, jams, and jellies; Bright Ide Acres with pastured poultry, pork, and beef; Find Your Joy and their yarn and fiber crafts; Feral Daughter Farm, selling fresh and dried flowers, plus homemade gifts made from such; and Dandy Flower Co. with, you guessed it, bouquets.

In addition to the titular attractions and other goods, Simple Goodness Sisters will be serving its regular selection of sodas, cocktails, and paninis, plus limited-time garlic dishes.

“We will have… roasted peppers with garlic butter, garlic pretzel, hot garlic and goat cheese dip appetizer, garlic bread, garlic panini sandwich, Charcuterie boards with garlicy cheeses, goat cheese and meats, garlic popcorn and on all of our regular panini items will have the ability to add garlic butter,” Cunningham said.

Long before the idea of the Simple Goodness Sisters Soda Shop was formed, Cunningham and her husband moved to the Plateau in 2013. They bought an old dairy farm to try their hand at hardneck garlic, which grows easier in Washington than the softneck garlic you normally get at your local big-box grocery store.

There are more varieties of hardneck garlics than softneck, and those varieties can have more complex flavors depending on where they were grown.

In 2014, the Cunninghams put out a home-made sign on state Route 410 advertising their garlic for sale; they sold out of their 275 pound crop that weekend.

Repeated success led to the formation of the Goats and Garlic festival (the Cunninghams raised miniature goats before they started crop farming), which was a Buckley staple until Cunningham, along with her sister Belinda Kelly, turned to opening up the soda shop in Wilkeson.

The festival returned last year at the soda shop.

“It was wildly popular as we had taken three years off after it outgrew the farm in 2019, and in 2020 and 2021 we weren’t able to host it due to COVID,” said Cunningham. “I would guess we had at least 500 people come through to see the goats and buy garlic.”

And if garlic isn’t your thing, but cute animals is, this year’s festival will feature Hidden Circle Farm’s Miniature Nigerian Dwarf goats. Fun fact: these goats produce the highest butterfat content in their milk, great for goat cheese.