Garlic Fest tabbed a top choice for 2011

Recipes now being accepted for Gilroy Garlic Festival cook-off

After three pungent decades, the Gilroy Garlic Festival hasn’t
run out of ways to garner acclaim.
After three pungent decades, the Gilroy Garlic Festival hasn’t run out of ways to garner acclaim.

Parade Magazine recently selected the famed three-day event as one of the best food festivals in the United States, and a top pick for California in 2011.

“What’s really fun for us is that we all work so hard locally to do the very best we can. To receive some recognition like this really means a lot to us,” said Brian Bowe, the festival’s executive director. “We strive ever year to make it exciting, make it fresh for everybody.”

As soon as the issue highlighting the Garlic Festival was released in late May, Bowe said he was flooded with phone calls.

“People said, ‘Hey, did you see you were in Parade Magazine?’ ” Bowe recalled. “People noticed it, and I think that’s really awesome.”

He said he still keeps a copy of the magazine in the Garlic Festival office.

“Ingest garlic in every form imaginable,” reads a description on the magazine’s website. “Traditionalists can stick to garlic bread and garlic fries, while the daring can opt for garlic frog legs and garlic watermelon. And for the penny-pinchers, there’s free garlic ice cream.”

The festival has become one of the community’s standout aspects, and people across California and the United States have learned about Gilroy thanks in part to those three days in July, said Jane Howard, executive director of the Gilroy Visitors Bureau.

“Their two comments are garlic and shopping,” Howard said. “The festival has put us on the map. If people didn’t make it to the festival itself, they will stop here and pick up some garlic products because of the Garlic Festival.”

Parade Magazine wasn’t the only outlet that recently recognized the Garlic Festival.

Last month, online travel website TripAdvisor selected the Garlic Festival as the No. 6 wackiest summer event in the United States.

“We’ve had shows on Food Network in the past and we’ve gotten some press, but it’s always exciting when another publication comes out or another list comes out and we make the grade,” Bowe said. “It means we’re still doing a good job, still entreating people and preparing some good food.”

The 33rd annual Gilroy Garlic Festival is scheduled for July 29-31 at Christmas Hill Park.

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