Nancy Garlic Fest: People On The Move
You could already sense the pro behind the woman that is behind the famous Garlic Fest, through email communications. Nancy Stewart-Franczak is on top of her game. Her office is full of artistic paintings combined with lists, notes and agendas. Managing and bringing to life one of the most renowned festivals in town takes a good vision and a lot of blood, sweat and tears. Nancy, a PR and events veteran for over 22 years, moved to Delray Beach 25 years ago and founded the first ad agency on Atlantic Ave, Avenue Creative Group, above the current Café Blue.
"Not much was here” she noted. “I was the only agency on the Avenue. I immediately got in involved with the town and fell in love.” And the town didn't let her down. She helped launch events to attract people to the Ave, and did branding for numerous businesses in town, including 32 East. She was the co-chair of the SPRAB Board, President of the Downtown Merchants Association and Pineapple Grove Main Street Board, Chair of Creative City Collaborative, served on board of DDA, Chamber of Commerce, was 2006 Business Person of the Year and last year joined the ranks of 343 Certified Festival & Event Executives world-wide.
Nancy first experienced Garlic Fest 22 years ago in Gilroy California, as a community fundraiser for local non-profits. She loved the concept and wanted to bring it to life here, in Delray. The first year was a success with over 3,000 people, “I remember standing and looking at 25 people in line waiting to get in and was so excited.” Since then the festival attendance has been steadily growing with now over 40,000 attending each year.
This year the festival is celebrating its 18th anniversary and moving to the 726-acre Lake Worth, John Prince Park, due to the tremendous growth and need for larger space, with 8 dedicated acres for the event (Delray offered a 3-acre lot). The new location will facilitate a larger attendance and incorporate new areas including...more bars, more food, exhibitors, VIP hospitality lounge near stage with a wait staff, a recreational area showcasing trendy RV’s, boats and Vespa scooters in addition to on-site parking lot of 1,700 spaces. Shuttle transportation will be available from Delray Beach, Tri-Rail and to parking lots within the park. Her husband of 9 years is her partner in bringing in sponsors to help make it an experience for local businesses as well. This year they signed title sponsor, South Florida Honda, for the festival. Additional Official Sponsors include: Palm Beach County, iHeart Media, Waste Management, SEP Communications, Republic National, Delray Medical Center, All Dry USA, Storm Tight Windows, Bathrooms Plus, Coastal Supply Company and more!
"It's a bitter sweet move. We love Delray and the city has been great to us for many years. But we had challenges with local politics, and I’m a believer that something good comes out of every challenge in life. The bigger the challenge, the bigger the reward…I probably never would have left if I didn’t get the push. It's time to grow and this move expands our ability to offer people an even better experience.” With her strong mind and a soft heart, Nancy opened her doors to local professionals in the arts and entertainment to contribute to the festival. During our interview multiple local pros from the local production scene came in to discuss planning, as well as potential musicians for the show. Pulling up YouTube videos to identify musicians with large followings, while keeping in mind the ones we have a heart for "I like to book music that I actually know, but I try to feature music that everyone loves.”
2017 performers confirmed to date are: Andy Childs, The Fabulous Fleetwoods, Pat Roddy Band, Jeffrey James Gang, Joe Lasher Jr., MICHAEL FRANTI & SPEARHEAD and The Flyers (Friday’s national act to be announced soon.)
Supported Non-profits include:
ATLANTIC COMMUNITY HIGH SCHOOL BAND BOOSTERS
ATLANTIC HIGH SCHOOL EAGLE-ETTES
BOY SCOUT TROOP 301
BOYNTON BEACH HIGH SCHOOL
DEL PRADO ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
DELRAY BEACH POLICE EXPLORER POST 319
DON ESTRIDGE HIGH TECH MIDDLE SCHOOL
LATINO/HISPANO CULTURAL ALLIANCE
OMEGA PSI PHI FRATERNITY / QUESTERS COMMUNITY SERVICE FUND
Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc. / Zeta Lota Sigma Chapter
S.D. SPADY ELEMENTARY MONTESSORI MAGNET
THE AVENUE CHURCH
In the future, her vision includes the utilization of onsite camping (“glamping”), allowing visitors from throughout the state to stay on the festival grounds to enhance their experience. For now, celebrating the People Of Delray in the town "next door" is the first move in turning the old Delray Garlic Fest, into the new South Florida Garlic Fest.