‘Hottest festival in recent memory’ kicks up heat in Gilroy

Festival goers stay cool with water misters as they dance to the music of The Department of Rock at the amphitheater stage during the 2014 Gilroy Garlic Festival July 26.

Despite unusually warm weather that set temperatures rolling into the low-100s at peak festival time, results from the 36th Annual Gilroy Garlic Festival stay true to the community spirit that has and will continue to define the event as a hometown tradition drawing international crowds.
“We had some unusually warm weather this weekend, but we still shined,” said Gilroy Garlic Festival President Vito Mercado.
Tallies preliminarily finalized Monday show attendance levels at 80,848, a roughly 20 percent decline from 2013. Last year’s 35th anniversary celebration had 102,006 visitors.
Revenues were estimated at roughly $1.7 million, with last year’s results coming in at an estimated $2 million, according to festival organizers.
Revenues aside, the community spirit in Gilroy abounded. According to Mercado, the event continues to showcase the great people that comprise Gilroy, and this year’s event will continue its success donating to local charitable causes.
“We are truly proud to represent the more than 4,000 volunteers,” Mercado said.
On Monday, volunteers were hard at work cleaning up Christmas Hill Park to return it to normal. “The hottest festival in recent memory,” Mercado said, went down with minimal disruptions. Six arrests for public drunkenness were recorded by festival staff with final figures unavailable as of press time.
The festival’s new parking configuration that shifted half the load to a lot on East Day Road was a success, Mercado reported.
“The parking situation was just like we predicted,” Mercado said. “Friday and Saturday worked out beautifully, and Sunday was a busier day—there was some traffic on the freeway. We filled up the lot on Day Road, but the turnaround time for the buses still averaged about 20 minutes.”
Along Santa Teresa Boulevard, traffic was “as normal” with no backups, Mercado said.
“I think that the model we used for parking as a satellite worked,” he said.
In addition, many locals took advantage of the first-ever locals-only three-day pass with exact figures unavailable as of press time.
Tech-wise, organizers found success in the new Wi-fi network available to vendors to boost credit and debit sales, a “huge success,” Mercado said.
Top-selling items included combination number one: pepper steak sandwich, pasta con pesto and calamari: all for $15, Mercado reported.
On an entertainment level, Mercado said local acts were stellar crowd pleasers with the Vineyard Stage being a big hit on Saturday’s country day.
“Everyone enjoyed the music,” Mercado said.
In mercantile, Mercado reported “almost sold out” merchandise with glassware the big hit for 2014.
Supply never ran out with no shortages reported. While consistently long given hot temps, the line for Gilroy Garlic Festival ice cream waited patiently for another hit in 2014, garlic ice cream.
Smiling faces, bright yellow shirts and smiles continued to showcase Gilroy community involvement, he said.
“The community spirit really shined, and we made every effort to keep our guests satisfied,” Mercado said. “It paid off with thousands of happy visitors having a great time. The volunteers worked hard to put it on, and I think they did a fantastic job.
“The Gilroy community is still by far the most awesome place in the world.”
More information
For more information on the Gilroy Garlic Festival, visit garlicfestival.com.

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