Classic start to Garlic Fest excitement

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Classic cars and hot rod engines roared throughout downtown Gilroy Saturday afternoon as the 11th annual Garlic City Fun Run Car Show came cruising through town.
Dozens of eye-catching, old-school automobiles lined the streets of downtown, drawing-in several thousand people.
Hosted by the Gilroy Downtown Business Association, the festival closed off a section of Monterey Street, from Fourth Street to Seventh Street, allowing auto-lovers and admirers to stroll care-free, as they ogled at the wide variety of classic cars.
For car owners, it was also a special chance to show-off their prized possessions.
Fidel Santiago, of Gilroy, said this year’s car show was special. Although he’s been to the show in the past numerous times with his family, this was his first time entering his 1947 Dodge sedan.
“It’s different because before I was just a spectator… Now that I own a car, people are coming up to me and showing appreciation. It’s a good feeling,” Santiago said.
Irene Steele, of Morgan Hill, was there to support her husband, Richard Steele, who brought out his 1957 chameleon-colored Chevy.
“This is my first time to Gilroy car show, and I think it’s lovely. The weather is nice, great restaurants and the people are very friendly. I’m happy to be a part of it,” she said.
After receiving a plaque by Garlic Festival Association for the best car in the Garlic City Fun Run, the Steeles said they will definitely be coming back next year.  
As the day went on, lively performers and musicians entertained crowds on a stage set up at the intersection of Monterey and Sixth streets.
Just opposite the stage, stood a giant, white garlic bulb sculpture, which is brought out every year by the Garlic Festival Association to promote the festival.
The metal, bulb, which sat atop a raised platform, stood well over 10 feet tall.
The highlight that day was the symbolic lighting of the bulb.
This year’s reining Garlic Festival Queen, Julia Brewka, received the high honor of lighting the enormous sculpture, in a symbolic ceremony that ushers in the beginning weeks of the Garlic Festival.
“It’s pumping-up everyone for the festival. It makes me excited to get everyone else excited. It’s one of the first events where were representing the festival and reminding to everyone to come out,” Brewka said.
Brewka, 21 of Morgan Hill, is no stranger to the Garlic Court. Her sister, Jessica Brewka was the Gilroy Garlic Festival Queen three years ago.
“I’m honored to be able to represent the festival. Every single event I get to go to, I get so excited… I only get one year, so I decided to take advantage of it,” she said.
The large flame stood lit for the rest of afternoon, as the bands played on and festival-goers grooved to the music and continued to admire the cars.
After the event wrapped-up, members of the Garlic Festival Association stored the bulb at a secret location, where it will remain until the opening day of the Garlic Festival on Friday, July 27, whence they will then move it to Christmas Hill Park and re-ignite the flame.

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