Garlic Festival gets hip

Gerry Foisy, dressed as Mr. Garlic, does a flame-up in Gourmet

Holler, teens from around the Bay Area: You might not be jazzed about road-tripping to Gilroy with your parents, but the Garlic Festival just got that much cooler.
A brand-new teen zone outfitted with a 250-foot-long zip line, an Orbitron (a human gyroscope ride), a quad jump (described as a “giant spring hinge”), a mechanical bull, a massive “Titanic” slide and a giant rat race course will give youths in junior high and high school new thrills this summer, apart from the bizarre novelty of consuming barbecued alligator.
Keeping in line with the festival’s eternal mission of catering to entire families, event organizers decided to pepper in some edgier attractions this year, according to Executive Director Brian Bowe with the Gilroy Garlic Festival.
“We’ve always known that we’ve kind of missed that age bracket,” Bowe said.
While organizers have worked to book local bands that appeal to adolescents, “this is one of the first things that we’ve done that is genuinely marketed to a teen audience,” said Bowe. “You know how it is – you become a teenager and so much isn’t cool anymore. We’re hoping that the older kids will think that this stuff is cool.”
The teen zone will be overseen by Denise Buessing (who is in charge of the children’s area) and is operated by Fun & Games, one of the festival’s primary vendors for 12 years, according to Bowe. The new area inside the 34th annual Garlic Festival will be set up “a little bit out of the way” in the northeast nook of Christmas Hill Park just past the amphitheater, but “we know that kids will find where the cool stuff is, no matter where you put it,” Bowe rationed.
He anticipates the zip line, which allows two riders to scale a 30-foot tower and zip down a pair of wires that run parallel to each other, will be a major hit with festival-goers.
Rides in the teen zone will cost a certain number of tickets per ride, and will accept the same tickets required for attractions in the children’s area.
Bowe said the addition of a teen hub – which could expand in the coming years if it proves to be a hit – will be a revenue-generator for the festival.
“Our hope is that the area gains some traction,” he said.
Bowe described the teen zone as touting the same attractions frequently found at high school grad nights.
“It’s definitely not for little kids, but geared towards older kids,” he explained.
Bowe predicts adults will gravitate to the teen zone as well. As for younger festival attendants curious about the new area, Bowe said there will be no age restrictions but speculates some of the attractions will be off limits to smaller children.
“We really pride ourselves on being a family-friendly event,” he concluded. “Once a family shows up, we want make sure there is something for everyone to do, so they’ll stay longer and enjoy everything the festival has to offer.”

• 250-foot-long zip line
• Orbitron (a human gyroscope ride)
• Quad jump (described as a “giant spring hinge”)
• Mechanical bull
• Titanic slide
• Giant rat race
• 34th annual Gilroy Garlic Festival happens July 27-29; buy tickets now at
Gilroy’s gourmet extravaganza continues to garner regional clout outside of Santa Clara County.
The San Francisco Giants have partnered with the Gilroy Garlic Festival to host the “First Annual Giants Garlic Fest” from 4:30 to 7 p.m. Friday, June 29 at Seals Plaza inside AT&T Park. Special event ticket holders will receive a limited edition of famed festival mascot Herbie the Bobblehead, all decked out in a San Francisco Giants uniform.
Giants fans will get a whiff of the nation’s premier garlic celebration, complete with Gilroy’s legendary Pyro Chefs who will prepare gourmet garlicky recipes and put on a fiery pre-game afternoon show.
Special event ticket prices vary depending on what seats you purchase. Admission includes access to a pre-game Garlic Festival featuring an array of garlic-based foods and entertainment. Call (415) 972-2298 or visit events to purchase tickets.

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