Gilroy Garlic Festival 2012
When: Last weekend of July( July 27 – July 29 in 2012)
Where: Gilroy, Sta. Clara, California, USA
It all started when a Gilroy resident read that Arleux, France, is the world’s largest seat of garlic growers. Though technically not the world’s largest producer of garlic, Gilroy (through Gilroy Foods) nonetheless processes more garlic than any factory on earth. Pickled, powdered, minced: You name it, they have it.
Hence, the festival was born. It was founded in 1979 by Dr. Rudy Melone, Don Christopher and Val Filice. Since then, it has grown to be a garlicky fundraiser for various charities and causes.
About the Event:
The Gilroy Garlic Festival has been dubbed as one of the largest food festivals in the United States. Held annually in Gilroy, Santa Clara, on the last weekend of July, the affair attracts celebrity chefs who cook garlic dishes and serve as panels of judges for a slew of cook-off events. This year, the garlic celebration kicks off on July 27 and concludes on July 29.
More than 2 tons of fresh garlic are used every year to celebrate this aromatic feast, a sensory overload of garlic bread, garlic sausages, garlic seafood and, yes, even garlic ice cream.
But it’s not just all about chomping down aromatic sausages. Some of the more creative and daring participants adorn themselves with garlands of white bulbs as they stroll down the Gourmet Alley.
Like any festival, the Gilroy Garlic Festival has to crown a beauty queen. The pageant is similar to standard competitions, except that young ladies have to prepare their ‘garlic’ speech, often a deal-maker or deal-breaker for the aspirant.
There are arts and crafts, and one thing that young participants will get to learn is to make garlic braids. The stage is also set for musical performances not only from the Garlic City Harmony, but also from up and coming local talents.
For those with considerable skill in the kitchen, the Great Garlic Cook-Off is an opportunity to test their mettle with everything garlicky.
Gilroy maybe world-famous for garlic processing, but it is not only this pungent bulb that this Santa Clara county is producing. Gilroy has also a sizable mushroom industry. For those who want to neutralize the after-taste, strawberries are sweet and healthy alternatives. It also doesn’t hurt that there is a side trip attraction for vinophiles: Mt. Madonna State Park is home to old estates which produce boutique wines. Peninsula Vineyards is also nearby.
Gilroy Garlic Festival is one of those one-of-a-kind events that intrepid travelers will just have to experience if only to satisfy their curiosity. Given the steady appeal of the event, however, travelers may find it irresistible to not satisfy their appetites.