Garlic angels and sturdy volunteers make Fest sing

Number 33 is in the bank and the little ol’ Gilroy Garlic
Festival just keeps getting better. Seriously, if there’s a better
community-powered festival in the world, it surely does not get the
recognition that Gilroy’s does.
Number 33 is in the bank and the little ol’ Gilroy Garlic Festival just keeps getting better. Seriously, if there’s a better community-powered festival in the world, it surely does not get the recognition that Gilroy’s does.

Huge kudos to Volunteer President Kurt Svardal and to every Gilroyan who makes this happen. It sounds cliche – and it is – but it’s true. There are volunteers working as you read who are finishing the tear down – tough sledding after the festivities are over. There are volunteers who tracked down supplies of calamari when the crowds overwhelmed – in spite of optimistic ordering. There are volunteers who dished out out water samples to guests waiting in long lines for combo plates – it’s all about hospitality.

That’s the thing – everyone does what needs to be done when it needs to be done such that the consequences are the best possible for the guests.

It’s that driving spirit which powers the festival. Combine that with a commitment to improvement and execution and you have the best little – if you call 109,067 over three days little – festival in the world.

This year, President Svardal and the board focused on improving the bottom line in Gourmet Alley. Lo and behold, a 23 percent increase year over year. That’s some improvement. Dave Bozzo and Don DeLorenzo led a Sportsman Chef-dominated crew that brought the Alley’s Pepper Steak sandwich all the way back to glory. Patrons raved, and to have that mainstay back on track makes all the difference in sales. Ditto with bringing back the spaghetti noodles for pasta con pesto and a version of the traditional sauce.

There are bills to be paid and capital improvement items to be purchased, but when all is said and done the 33rd annual Gilroy Garlic Festival may pour more than $300,000 back into charitable community groups. That would send the total heading toward the $10 million mark. Amazing.

And that doesn’t even count the money pipelined into organizations like the Gilroy Foundation, which sells refreshingly delicious wine coolers, or Bethany Community Church, which barbecues up some mighty tasty ribs and chicken.

Our gigantic garlic party infuses cash into so many local organizations and on garlic angel’s wings turns the words ” ’tis better to give than receive” into glorious reality for all the 4,000 or so who give of their time and talent to make each festival a success.

Those same garlic angels apparently watched out for Gilroy by making sure the weather cooperated with the perfect combo plate – morning fog, afternoons in the 80s and a perfectly palatable breeze.

The revamped amphitheater at Christmas Hill Park – beautiful and comfortable; the Pepper Steak sandwiches – back-on-top delicious; the Rotary wine tent – a location shift, a few tweaks and it’s more popular than ever; and the volunteer efforts – typically outstanding.

It’s only 17 years, folks, to the 50th anniversary Gilroy Garlic Festival. That’s an amazing thought. With continued care and passion, we’ll get there. Nice job Gilroy!

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