31 years ago Dr. Rudy Melone decided that Gilroyans shouldn’t be embarrassed or apologetic about our prolific crop of garlic but be proud of it. Dr. Melone also thought that the “Stinky Rose” could be a fund raising source and activity for his beloved community. So he cornered the local garlic farmers and convinced them to hold such an event and earn some funds for the local Rotary club. A media luncheon was held and they were also convinced. Reluctant city leaders were pulled into the fray and 7 months later, in 1979, the first G arlic Festival arrived.
That 1st festival netted $19,000. In the 30 years since then, more than $8 million has been given back to the community!
But what I really like is the cheerful community involvement where hundreds of charity and non-profit groups work side by side as volunteers and vendors earning funds for their group. The Gilroy Gators Swim Teams earns over $6,000 during the 3 day event. Hope Rehabilitation earns more than $3,000. Even the $400 earned by Sunset 4-H club is much more than they could earn selling cookies in front of the market. My son-in-law is a Scout Master of a local Boy Scout troop. They will earn all of their entire year’s operating funds from selling lemon aid at the Festival.
When we say it is “tons of fun” for the visitors we mean that, literally: approximately 11 tons of beef, 5 tons of pasta, 5 tons of calamari, 3 tons of scampi and 3 tons of fresh Christopher Ranch garlic is expected to be consumed by the 100,000 patrons. Additionally, there are live bands, events for the kids, and all of the normal fun activities you would expect as such a world class event.
Why not plan on coming out for good food, lots of fun and helping so many good organizations. This year’s Festival will be held on Friday – Sunday, 7/24 -25-26. Gates open at 10:00 AM. For more information go to: gilroygarlicfestival.com