If you love garlic, you’re going to love Gilroy, California – appropriately nicknamed “the Garlic Capital of the World”. On the last full weekend of July of every year, Gilroy holds one of the largest food festivals in the U.S. – the Gilroy Garlic Festival. In 2010, the 32nd Annual Gilroy Garlic Festival will be held July 23 – 25.
Food at the Garlic Festival
Food, food, food – that’s the focus of the Gilroy Garlic Festival. In fact, in 2010 the garlic festival will use 10 tons of beef, 4 tons of pasta, 4 tons of calamari, 2 tons of scampi – and two tons of garlic in the preparation of food for festival-goers. The Gilroy Garlic Festival hosts garlic-cooking contests with famous chefs in attendance. The contests will culminate in the Great Garlic Cook-Off Finals on Saturday.
Guests at the Gilroy Garlic Festival enjoy a wide range of food cooked with garlic – everything from garlic bread, garlic mushrooms, garlic sausage sandwiches, and even fried garlic – to pickled garlic, garlic buttered popcorn, and the highly popular garlic ice cream. Seriously – garlic ice cream. They’ve run out of samples of garlic ice cream at past festivals, so get yours early.
Are you a gourmet? Try the key lime calamari or garlic escargot. Are you adventuresome? Try the garlic gator on a stick or the garlic frog legs. Do you have a sweet tooth? After you try the garlic ice cream, try garlic chocolate, garlic jelly, or garlic watermelon.
Are you a wine connoisseur? No problem. Wine, wine coolers, mimosas, and sangria are available at the Gilroy Garlic Festival. Just make sure you have a designated driver, because wine and garlic go oh-so-well together.
Don’t worry. There are non-garlic foods at the Gilroy Garlic Festival, too, for those times your palate needs to take a garlic break.
What Else Goes On at the Gilroy Garlic Festival?
While eating is a big part of the Gilroy Garlic Festival, it isn’t the only part. The Gilroy Garlic Festival features a wide variety of entertainment, including jazz, rock ‘n’ roll, country, blues, reggae, swing, R&B, and much more. Strolling musicians wander through the crowds, and three stages feature music all day long.
The Gilroy Garlic Festival loves families and children. They have a children’s area that features rides, puppet shows, arts & crafts, magic shows, and family entertainment. On Saturday night a kids’ talent show hits the stage, with the finals on Sunday. Every year is a little different, so be sure to check the schedule in advance.
The Gilroy Garlic Festival incorporates arts and crafts booths with over 100 artists from around the country. Here you can find jewelry, paintings, wood working, sculptures, ceramics, glassworks, and much more to purchase or simply to enjoy. There are booths that display works in leather, metal, 2-D fine arts, beads, and even a kids-interest arts & crafts booth.
Where Is It?
The Gilroy Garlic Festival is held in Christmas Hill Park in Gilroy, California, off Hwy. 101, 30 miles south of San Jose and due east of Santa Cruz. The park is full of shade trees, and shade tents with tables and chairs will be provided.
Parking at the festival is free. Tickets for adults are $17, and for children and seniors it’s $8, but from June 1 to July 22 you can purchase tickets online at a $2 discount.
Lodging, RV Parks, and Camping
If you want to spend the night during the Gilroy Garlic Festival, there is plenty of lodging in Gilroy. Get more information on hotels, RV parks, and camping at the Gilroy Visitors Bureau website. Listed below are some suggested places to stay.
Best Western Forest Park Inn: 100% smoke-free rooms and suites, Sealy Posturepedic mattresses, free local calls, refrigerator, free wireless Internet, complimentary continental breakfast, whirlpool. $239 & up. 408-848-3500
Quality Inn & Suites: Free wireless Internet, free local calls, pool, hot tub, refrigerators, microwaves, free continental breakfast, laundry facilities, pet-friendly. $199 & up. 408-847-5500
Ramada Inn Gilroy: 100% non-smoking, pool, hot tub, free continental breakfast, free high speed wireless Internet, microwaves, refrigerators, free local calls, laundry facilities, restaurant across street. $169 & up. 408-848-1467
Super 8: Microwaves, refrigerators, free wireless Internet, free local calls, complimentary continental breakfast, pool, pet-friendly, 100% non-smoking. AAA approved. $159 & up. 408-848-4108
Gilroy Garlic USA RV Park: 176 deluxe sites, two clubhouses, full hookups, free wireless Internet, free satellite cable TV, heated pool, store, laundry. $45 for pull-thru site.
Mt. Madonna County Park: Ten miles west of Gilroy. 118 campsites, including one yurt for rent. Showers available. Tents, RV’s with water & electricity hookups. $30 & up. 408-355-2201
When not at the Gilroy Garlic Festival, you may want to try local restaurants in Gilroy. Besides chain restaurants like Applebee’s, Mimi’s, Chili’s, and Hometown Buffet, consider these local restaurants:
Black Bear Diner, 395 Leavesley Rd., 408-842-9901. Breakfast, American.
Casa de Fruta, 10021 Pacheco Pass Hwy, 408-842-9316. 24 hour restaurant, gift shop, service station, country store, and 99 space RV park.
Tasso’s Old House Restaurant, 383 First Street, 408-847-7527. American, Greek, Italian
Joe’s Italian Restaurant, 168 W 10th St, 408-842-1446. Italian, pizza, seafood, steak.
Longhouse Restaurant, 8195 Monterey Street, 408-842-7664. Family restaurant, breakfast, American cuisine.
Gilroy Visitors Bureau
For more information on the Gilroy Garlic Festival, accommodations, dining, things to do, and more, go to the Gilroy Visitors’ Bureau website or visit them at 7780 Monterey St., phone 408-842-6436. They are open Monday through Friday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.