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Malta’s inaugural Garland Festival brings town together

October 1, 2018

MALTA – Erin McNeal is proud of her community, and she wanted to do something to showcase what it has to offer while providing an afternoon of family fun.

So she and other members of Malta’s new Seedlings Committee decided to throw a fall celebration and thus, Garland Festival was born. The inaugural event brought community members and local businesses together along Adams Street on Saturday for live music from local performers, games and food from local restaurants.

“We were looking for some new ideas and a lot of towns have fall festivals, so we thought we’d have one too,” McNeal explained. “I chose Garland as the theme because it’s a nod to the fall harvest tradition here. It’s like an open house of what Malta has to offer. We’re trying to get the next generation of families involved in the community.”

Several local businesses sponsored games for both children and adults, while local crafters showcased their handmade wares. Kat Willrett, owner of Willrett Flower Co., said that she was enjoying Garland Festival because it was different than Malta Days, the village’s early summer celebration.

“[Garland Festival] is centered around the businesses and what people can find in Malta,” she said. “We wanted to draw a younger crowd with the music, beer and bags tournament. People have a lot of misconceptions about small towns that we don’t have a lot to offer, and it’s important to show people that Malta is more than just a small town.”

Brenda Jergens, also a member of the Seedlings Committee, has lived in Malta for 33 years, and said that she’s looking forward to bringing more events like Garland Festival to the community.

“I love the small-town atmosphere and the potential Malta has,” she said. “I want to see the community grow and reach its potential, and the festival was a neat idea.”

Kristen and Curt Catencamp recently opened their new business, Remington’s Gastropub, and were excited to provide the beer near the live music stage, which was just outside their door. Kristen Catencamp said that the festival was a great opportunity to bring people together.

“Garland Festival is smaller and more quaint than Malta Days. People can experience the synergy of a small town. I love Malta and its small community feel where everyone knows each other,” she said.

Jessica Simon and her three children were enjoying the many children’s games. Simon said that she lives a few doors away from where the festival was held, so she wanted to check it out.

“We love living in Malta so we wanted to come and support the community,” she said. “It’s the perfect small town. My kids can run around and have fun [at the festival],”

Katie Fenstermaker came to Malta because of the small-town feel, and shortly after moving in, she joined the Lions Club to get involved with the community. She and her son, Ethan, were having fun playing mini golf.

“This is something different, and we’re trying to get the kids involved in the community,” she said. “I love being active in this community, and it’s good to get more people involved with our little town. [Garland Fest] is important because it gets people out here.”

Tom Jergens helped build the mini-golf holes. The Malta resident and Lions Club member said that Garland Fest was a great idea.

“This is for families to come and enjoy, and there is something for kids and adults,” he said. “We wanted to bring a crowd to town to show Malta’s small-town traditions.”

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