‘When in Gilroy, do as Gilroyans do’

Toni Manning and her son Derek Saturday morning at the 33rd

The tiniest, most precious bulb of a festival-goer, 3-week-old
Cole Waite, may have set a record Saturday morning at the 33rd
annual Gilroy Garlic Festival.

He might be the youngest garlic lover out here,

his proud papa, Jeff Waite of San Jose said around 11 a.m.
Saturday. It’s he and his wife Angelique’s first child.
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CHRISTMAS HILLS PARK – The tiniest, most precious bulb of a festival-goer, 3-week-old Cole Waite, may have set a record Saturday morning at the 33rd annual Gilroy Garlic Festival.

“He might be the youngest garlic lover out here,” his proud papa, Jeff Waite of San Jose said around 11 a.m. Saturday. It’s he and his wife Angelique’s first child.

As Jeff munched on an ear of corn, his father Ron Waite pushed Cole in a covered stroller back and forth.

“They flew in Thursday and we said, Saturday we’re dragging you to the festival,” Jeff said with a laugh. Ron, who with his wife traveled from Central Massachusetts, retorted, “We came to see our new grandson, but this is great, too.”

It’s been 10 years since the local Waites made it to the festival from their previous hometown of San Francisco. Waite wore his 2001 commemorative T-shirt, which was admittedly a bit worn.

“We’ll bring Cole back every year. He could be like 80 (years old) and have come all 80 years!” Waite said.

Well Jeff, the Dispatch sure hopes baby Cole likes garlic.

“He will if he’s part of our family,” he joked.

The Waites were just one family among thousands Saturday who drove into town in droves from before gates opened at 10 a.m. and throughout the afternoon. And at the Garlic Festival, lunchtime starts the moment you set foot on G-Fest grass.

The Ramirez’s of Tollhouse near Shaver Lake bee-lined for garlic ice cream just in time for the 10:30 a.m. brunch bell.

“I was dying to try it,” Kathleen Ramirez said, so she made her husband Art bring her to her first Gilroy Garlic Festival as soon as organizers would let them in. “I heard the line builds up really quickly throughout the day and I wanted to be first,” she said.

When asked if it the one-of-a-kind seasoned dairy product was satisfying, Kathleen took a big scoop before answering.

“Better than expected. It’s really, really good,” she said.

On the lawn 100 meters from where the Ramirez’s enjoyed garlic ice-cream for breakfast were Toni Manning and her son Derek, who was chowing on crawdads for his first meal of the day.

A 33-year veteran had been located, by chance.

Toni, at 41-years-old, is a Garlic Festival aficionado and her 10-year-old son is planning to follow in Mom’s footsteps.

“I’ve been every year since a baby, born and raised in Gilroy. And I’ve brought my son every year,” Manning said. Usually Manning, her husband and their son come on Fridays to the festival, but work got in the way this year and Derek’s dad couldn’t make it today. “My husband said, ‘you need to take Derek to get his crawdads!’ We’ll get another round before we go, too,” Manning said.

Over 33 years, the crowds have grown larger (that’s expected, Manning said), but she’s not too thrilled with some changes. “I wish they would use the original pesto sauce. It’s not the same. The organizers have tried to get too fancy sometimes,” Manning said. “But I love the stuffed mushrooms. You know why? Because they have never changed. They are awesome,” Manning said.

By 12:30 p.m. Saturday, temperatures hovered around 80 degrees sending some for cover under the shade structure over the Great Garlic Cook-Off stage. Carolyn and Bill Lee of San Lorenzo took a seat, not to escape the heat – “It’s been unbearable in years’ past. It’s great today,” Bill said – but to wait for the next show.

“One thing I love about this festival is the crowd control. It’s so organized and there’s room to move around. There are so many people and so much going on, but they know how to control a crowd,” she said.

Of course, eating garlic food isn’t a bad way to spend a weekend, the Lees said. Today, it was garlic chicken stir-fry for Bill and garlic noodles con pesto for Carolyn.

“What’s the saying, “When in Rome”? When in Gilroy, do as the Gilroyans do,” Carolyn said.

Eat well, Gilroy; eat garlic.

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