Gilroy Garlic Festival Gives Back to Local Non-Profits

The Silicon Valley holds claim to many things, primarily being the originating hotspot for burgeoning technology. One of its outlying towns, the city of Gilroy, is known as the “Garlic Capital of the World”. For the past 37 years has been celebrating this status and its culinary crop at the Gilroy Garlic Festival. To date, the festival has raised and donated over $10 million to 167 local organizations and non-profits.

It all started in 1979 when Dr. Rudy Malone, who was of Italian decent and as such, a lover of the aromatic bulb, approached Christopher Ranch with the idea to celebrate ‘The Stinking Rose” with an annual festival. Christopher Ranch, the largest shipper of garlic worldwide, loved the idea and in conjunction with Dr. Malone, they created what is known as ‘the preeminent food festival in America’.

The original festival was projected to attract 5,000 attendees but, like the delicious aroma of the herb, word spread and over 15,000 people flocked to Gilroy to the inaugural event. Today, well over 100,000 garlic lovers are drawn to the festival during the three-day culinary celebration.

Although the festival offers live entertainment on three stages, arts & crafts vendors as well as the Miss Gilroy Garlic contest and kid & teen attractions, the main focus is the food, all of which includes the pungent herb. The heart of the event is Gourmet Alley, an enormous outdoor kitchen where world-renown “Pyro-Chefs” prepare flaming garlicky dishes. The festival’s food focus continues with the Great Garlic Recipe Contest & Cook-Off and cooking demonstrations led by both celebrity, professional and amateur chefs. There are also an endless variety of foods for sale, including stuffed mushrooms, peppersteak sandwiches, pasta con pesto, calamari, scampi, Italian sausage sandwiches, garlic bread and garlic fries as well as the infamous garlic ice cream.

In 2014, the festival raised an impressive $350,000 that was donated to numerous non-profits. If 2015 is any indication, the 167 organizations supported by the annual celebration will benefit greatly from the 37th annual festival proceeds.

Follow your nose to Christmas Hill Park, 7050 Miller Avenue in Gilroy on Friday, July 24th through Sunday July 26th. Tickets to the Garlic Festival can be purchased online at EventBrite.