Monday, July 28, 2008

Gilroy, CA: Garlic Festival: Big Freaks in a Small Town

After months of impatient waiting and some last minute planning, Cake, Katie and I finally made it down to Gilroy yesterday for the tail end of the Gilroy Garlic Festival. In the spirit of the event, we donned the finest vampire costumes available for purchase in July (note: both Party City, Daly City and Party City, Pleasanton DO NOT sell vampire costumes until August). This was a big hit though it garnered a few unpleasant jokes, solicitations, and mean stares from the Garlic Princesses aka sorority-sisters turned Garlic-Pageant-runner-ups.

Gilroy is a small farm town (pop: 50,000) about 30 minutes south of San Jose and boasts "Garlic Capital of the Nation" as it main and only attraction. Its biggest and only event is the Garlic Festival, which brought 100,000 spectators this year. I was impressed with the capacity of the town's human and industrial infrastructure for an event of this size. The logistics of transporting thousands of people from a fairly distant parking lot to the fairgrounds appeared to run smoothly, thanks to the help of hundreds of festival volunteers.

The fair was wearing out when we got there but still crowded with drunks and bad breath. Most of the booths sold different kinds of heavily seasoned food or novelty garlic tsotchkes. We helped ourselves to several servings of soft-serve garlic ice cream - it was pretty tasty and not too garlicy (despite having been provided by the evil BigFarm-a, ConAgra).

The highlight of our visit was the olympiad between the 2006 Garlic Festival Queen and staff reporter Josh from the Gilroy Dispatch. Josh beat Queen in the rock wall climb. Queen beat Josh at garlic braiding contest. Then it got sticky. The final challenge was to see who could shake up the tallest flame at the wok station. The judged called Queen the winner but many in the crowd disputed this. Queen was ultimately named as the champion of the games. Conspiracy theories ensued.

Gilroy is bumping; Roomie and Bone


2006 Garlic Festival Queen competes with Dispatch writer; Festival Princesses with former Queen

Closing down the festival!; man proves Festival with accordion soundtrack

We made the local paper:

Three women from San Francisco came dressed as vampires.
"As a vampire, it's hard to watch all of this. It makes me feel like a mortal," said XXX XXXXX, who went under the name "Ruby Fuerza."
The three women - who donned black, bore fangs and sported red make-up dripping from their ruby lips - stood out, but the garlic treats brought them together with the other festival-goers.
"The garlic ice cream was delicious," Katie Lerin said. "It's easy to eat with these fangs, too."

This may not have anything to do with the fact that we are friends with 3/5 of the reporters. Sheesh.


Katelyn said...


Katie Lerin said...

Fun Facts from the Feastival:
"To remove the odor of garlic from hands, rub with salt or lemon juice, then rinse under cold H20. "
"If the odor of garlic or onions has permeated a plastic bowl or storage container, wash thoroughly, then crumple some newspaper, and place it in the container for a few days."
"To remove garlic odor from your breath (albeit, who would want to!?), eat a little fresh parsely, or simply use breath mints." (or die if your a vampire!)"

erin story geld said...

congrats on your big win in BEST OF THE BAY! HUBBA HUBBA!


theodoreunit said...

"small farm town (pop: 50,000)"!!!

Ruby Fuerza AKA Lucille Brawl said...
This comment has been removed by the author.