It all began some years back. All the Lowe boys and their wives would get together at their parents' house to play horseshoes, drink beer, talk big, barbecue, and admire Pa's huge elephant garlic.
The Lowe boys, and some of their wives, are a highly competitive group. Over time, they took it upon themselves to challenge Pa's authority as Garlic King, and began to grow and strut their own elephant garlics. It got bad enough at one point that a tape measure (mine, since I was always knitting) was produced to measure exactly which was the largest, making its owner the garlic king for that year.
This progressed to an annual activity that was a full year in the making. Ma held the bet money (I told you they were competitive) for the year and we had a feed to honor the day, usually in mid-July. That's when the garlic is ready to harvest.
The trick is to dig the garlic a few hours before the contest. They shrink up as they dry, so fresh is best.
This is our offering from last year. We've never won in all these years, but he did place 3rd once. The contest has evolved over the years and kind of grown out of control, but it continues.
The garlic is dug, washed, and compared to find the biggest one. A mere fraction of an inch could make all the difference.
The rest is tied into bundles and hung around the patio to dry. I can't pass up Hubby's concentration face as he ties the bundles. His mouth goes to one side, then to the other side, then back again for as long as the operation lasts.
As I said, the garlic contest has evolved over the years. Ma has been gone these 10 years, Pa is 91 and hasn't had a garden since Ma passed away. The sisters have joined the competition (welcome sisters) as have children, and now grandchildren.
The winner gets the bulk of the money and the honor of owning for a year and signing the traveling trophy, a garlic hat. The winner is also obligated to host the 35 to 40 guests at the following year's garlic contest.
I hope Hubby never wins.