The bobble-head doll that has become one of the hottest items at
the city’s annual Garlic Festival is trading in his casual
Gilroy – The bobble-head doll that has become one of the hottest items at the city’s annual Garlic Festival is trading in his casual wear. This year, the little garlic man with a wobbly head, affectionately called Herbie after the aromatic bulb he resembles, will be dressed in a white chef’s coat in honor of the garlicky grub served up at the festival each year.
“We’ve always tried to design him with some theme related to the Garlic Festival,” said Patty Sebald, chair of the festival’s retail committee. “This year he’s a chef. In comparison to the other Herbies, he’s got a little bit more rounded features because he likes to eat.”
Herbie burst onto the scene during the city’s 24th annual Garlic Festival, when he wore farmer’s attire of overalls and a T-shirt.
“He sold out in record time,” Sebald said. “In less than an hour that first year he was just gone. He’s very special.”
In his second year, organizers dressed Herbie in a tuxedo in honor of the 25th anniversary of the garlic festival, which drew a record crowd of more than 130,000 people. The festival, which is organized and run by more than 4,000 local volunteers, has raised more than $6.8 million for local charities and programs since it began in the late ’70s.
Herbie’s quick popularity ensured he would return, Sebald said. It was simply a matter of deciding on a design. Organizers expect Herbie to once again sell for $10 a piece. The dolls have fetched double that amount on online auction site eBay. Last year’s Herbie, dressed in blue jeans and a black T-shirt with a picture of a flaming pan, is still available on eBay, as well as at least one of the 25th anniversary dolls.
Sebald dispelled rumors that Herbie would appear with children this year, although she confessed organizers had thought about including some bobble-head kids.
She said organizers wanted to sell a limited amount of about 3,000 dolls to ensure they remain collector’s items. Plus, she explained there would have to be a Mrs. Herbie before any kids come along.
“Right now Herbie remains a bachelor,” Sebald said.
She encouraged anyone interested in getting their hands on a doll to get to the 27th annual festival early on Friday, July 29, the first day of the three-day event. Tickets for the event cost $12 for adults, $6 for adults and seniors. For more information, visit www.gilroygarlicfestival.com.