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Garlic leaves a sweet aftertaste–
Northport Mom wins garlic fest poster contest

The Observer | Kelly Campbell | April 28, 2005

Jennifer Stearns Lau, of Northport, has won a national contest to create a poster for the 2005 Garlic Festival in Gilroy, California.

Mrs. Lau said that she took well over 800 photos of garlic before she came up wiht the winning image, an exercise that left her obsessed by the pungent herb. "I love garlic, but for three weeks, when I was working on the poster it was an obsession," Mrs. Lau said. She scoured the Internet for any information she could find and visted the Northport Library regularly for more facts about garlic.

"Normally when I work on a project like this if I don't know much about it I try to find out every little thing about the subject that I can for inspiration. I wasn't finding anything I really liked on line but the Northport Library was so helpful to me in doing my research," Mrs. Lau said. "They located so much information for me by searching at other local libraries. Just everything related to garlic including photographs, ways to cook it, how to farm it, how it's planted, how it grows."

At first she was using garlic from a local Long Island grocery store but then was sent some bulbs from a farm in Gilroy. "So my entire house smelled of garlic. I was cutting it apart and examining it really close up and cooking it and roasting it," she said.

As part of her research, she begain taking photos of the garlic in various states. "I thought of photographing it as a piece of sculpture and began picking cloves that looked like porcelain," she said. She ended up wiht a photo she used in teh poster which shows the roughness and coarseness of a garlic bulb thanks to her three-year-old son Theo.

"He came over and started putting the garlic in thsoe zinc cups and I looked down and saw how they looked and they fit perfectly," Mrs. Lau said. "I ran and go the wood box. I never ever would have gone in that direction but he is always lining things up and making patterns out of things so he totally inspired me."

Her resulting image will not only be used as the 27th annual festival's official poster but will also be featured on festival merchandise including T-shirts, tote bags and aprons. The festival orgainizers have also invited Mrs. Lau to come to the festival to sign copies of the posters. She plans to attend with Theo as well as her husband Richard and 14-month-old daughter Amelia.

Mrs. Lau attended art school at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh and worked in the graphics department of Merrill Lynch before forming her own Northport-based design company called Acadia Design.

She found out about the contest through a client based in Gilroy called South Valley Internet. In fact, garlic is such a big deal in th Gilroy area that SVI's domain for its web site is and Mrs. Lau designed the company website. "They encouraged me to enter the contest because, in creating their web site, I had already learned so much about garlic," Mrs. Lau said. " suppose also it would give them a measure of prestige being able to say our designer won the Garlic Festival Poster Contest."

For more information about the Gilroy Garlic Festival, call (888)GARLICFEST. The Gilroy Garlic Fesitval is always the last three day weekend in July. More than 130,000 people attend the three-day festival last year held just south of San Francisco.




Best in show: Jennifer Stearns Lau of Northport (below) with daughter Amelia and son Theo, has won a national contest to create a poster (above) for the 2005 Garlic Festival in Gilroy, California. More than 130,000 people attend the three-day festival last year held just south of San Francisco. Theo's rearrangement of his mom's garlic bulbs resulted in the winning entry.


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