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The Gilroy Garlic Festival

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It’s not too late to start making your travel plans. The Gilroy Garlic Festival has been taking place annually since 1979 and each year many trek to Gilroy, CA, the garlic capital of the world, to take part in a 3 day celebration of garlic complete with food, crafts and entertainment. The Gilroy Garlic Festival takes place annually on the last full weekend of July.

The Gilroy Garlic Festival originated in 1979 when Rudy Melone set out to establish Gilroy, CA as the garlic capital of the world. He has previously read an article about a festival in Arleux, France which attracted 80,000 participants to taste a garlic soup during the course of a three day period. The residents of this city believe their event established Arleux, France as the garlic capital of the world. Melone set out to beat their number of participants thus proving Gilroy to be the true garlic capital.

Melone plans began with a luncheon for garlic growers, shippers and processors as well as food editors in November of 1978. During this luncheon participants were treated to a presentation on the economic impact garlic had on the area. At this time garlic was responsible for $35-40 million worth of revenue. The participants of this luncheon were also treated to a delectable meal infused with garlic. At the conclusion of this luncheon there was overwhelming support for a garlic festival to be held in Gilroy, CA.

Early in 1979 Melone incorporated the Gilroy Garlic Festival Association. The committee members began planning for the first garlic festival in May of 1979 and the inaugural event was held in Aug. of 1979.

The modern Gilroy Garlic Festival is a three day extravaganza with food, vendors, entertainment, cook-offs, crafts and activities. There is even a Garlic Festival Queen Pageant in which a queen is crowned to reign over the festival. The queen of the garlic festival participates in a number of activities but her primary duty is to enjoy the garlic festival.

Those who can’t make it to the Gilroy Garlic Festival can still do some pungent shopping. Many of the vendors on-hand for the garlic festival also offer their wares online and through the garlic festival website.

The Gilroy Garlic Festival Association is a non-profit organization which contributes much of the earnings from the Garlic Festival to groups and organizations in the community. The inaugural Garlic Festival raised $19,000 in funds for local groups. Since then it is estimated that the Garlic Festival has been responsible for over $4 million in donations to local groups.

The Gilroy Garlic Festival may not be one of the most popular events in the world but it certainly attracts its fair share of visitors. Each year many locals flock to this event but there are also many who travel long distances just to attend the event. Whether these people are drawn to the taste and smell of garlic or the community spirit the event fosters, they all stay and have fun and come to realize Gilroy is the garlic capital of the world.

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