Garlic Queen ’02: Royalty runs in the family

GILROY
– Miss Gilroy Garlic 2002 Vanessa LaCorte doesn’t have to
practice much for her new ambassador role – she’s been preparing
all her life.
GILROY – Miss Gilroy Garlic 2002 Vanessa LaCorte doesn’t have to practice much for her new ambassador role – she’s been preparing all her life.

“I’ve wanted to be the Garlic Queen ever since I can remember,” said LaCorte, who has lived in Gilroy all of her life. “I’ve always looked forward to the Garlic Festival and all of the excitement that surrounds it.”

For a person who’s always liked to be in the middle of things, being Miss Gilroy Garlic 2002 comes naturally to LaCorte.

“I wouldn’t describe myself as shy,” LaCorte said. “I’ve just always liked to be around people and be involved in whatever is going on. That’s why being the Garlic Queen is so fun, because I get to be involved in everything, meet new people and give back to the community.”

LaCorte, 18, recently graduated from Notre Dame High School in Salinas where she participated in volleyball and softball. She will attend college at St. Mary’s of Moraga near San Francisco in the fall as a pre-law major.

Displaying her versatility during the Miss Gilroy Garlic Pageant in May, LaCorte also won the Miss Congeniality Award, speech competition and earned a scholarship from Bob Lynch Ford.

“This is just a great opportunity to be a role model for the town,” LaCorte said. “I know when I was little I looked up to the queens and I’m looking forward to that. I’ve already learned a lot of leadership skills and it has really helped my communication – it has made me even more outgoing.”

Taking a quick look at LaCorte’s family tree, it is no surprise how she grew from a little girl with a dream into a queen.

LaCorte’s mother, Karen LaCorte, is a former Bonanza Days Queen – the city’s annual celebration that proceeded the Gilroy Garlic Festival. Her father, Frank LaCorte, is a former relief pitcher for the Houston Astros. LaCorte is also related to 2002 Ms. San Benito Rodeo Natalie LaCorte and 2002 Hollister Independence Rally cover girl Eden Gonzales.

“My family is really important to me and always has been,” said LaCorte, who also has a 23-year-old brother, Vince, who plays minor league baseball in the Baltimore Orioles’ farm system.

Although she’s grown up with sports all of her life, LaCorte says it’s time to focus on her other talents like academics, dancing and acting. Talents which helped her place second at last year’s Miss Teen California pageant.

“I’m done with sports for now,” she said. “They take up a lot of time and I want to focus on studying and school.”

Even though LaCorte speaks passionately of her ambition to be an entertainment or sports attorney, her mom says she might also have other plans.

“She wants to be Miss America,” Karen LaCorte said. “I think she can do it. I think she can do anything she wants…. She works hard, and she has a lot of poise.”

Throughout the three-day Garlic Fest, LaCorte will represent Gilroy in ribbon-cutting ceremonies and numerous community events. She is also going to attend the Takkomachi Beef Festival in Japan this fall as part of Gilroy and Takkomachi’s “sister city” exchange.

“I’m really looking forward to Japan,” LaCorte said. “(Being Miss Garlic) is what I’ve been waiting for. Now I can’t wait for the festival to start because I know it’s going to be so much fun – it always is.”

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