That’s all folks. It’s a wrap for the 40th annual Gilroy Garlic Festival.
After the last pepper steak had been served, the final beer poured, and as folks lingered in traffic driving home, all that remained, save for a Monday full of teardown work for volunteers, were memories and garlicky breath.
“It’s been great, the crowd is really happy,” Gilroy Councilmember Dan Harney said as a band played on the main stage behind him. “My daughter Frances Harney won third place in the Junior Cook-Off.”
A short walk away from the main stage, the Gavilan College football team, with Head Coach John Lango, sold cups of wine margaritas for $5, to support the football team.
“We sold over 1,500 yesterday, and we’re hoping to sell 1,000 today and break some records,” Lango said.
Over at the Wine Garden, wine lovers kept cool under the shade of tents and tree limbs. A gentle cool mist of cooling water from little overhead sprinklers helped to stave off the heat. One Morgan Hill resident, far too young for wine, 18-month-old Fiona Azzarello, was held up in the mist by her mom Kelly Azzarello to keep cool.
“We didn’t hit any traffic, we took Watsonville Road and Santa Teresa,” said Kelly Azzarello on how her family beat the traffic. “The wine is the best part for me, but the kids love the kid’s area. My son found a bubble machine that made him very happy, and Fiona loves the food.”
It’s likely that most at the Wine Garden didn’t realize that the smiling, tall gentleman in a tie-dyed shirt was Gilroy’s Chief of Police Scot Smithee. Smithee was there selling wine tickets, $9 for a glass, or the same price for three samples.
“The Garlic Festival is a beautiful event because we have over 100,000 people come from all over, which helps us to show off what we do,” Smithee said. “All the people around town who volunteer to make this happen is fantastic.”
The weekend wasn’t all fun and chilling out for everyone. Carlos Pineda, Chef at Rebekah Children’s Services Culinary Academy and Kneaded Bread Manager, became a two-time winner at the Garlic Showdown. Pineda and Sous Chef Andrew Briggs, whose Shrimp Chimichurri with Prunes and Plum, won the approval of Iron Chef Michael Symon. Pineda and Briggs donated their $3,000 price back to Rebekah Children’s Services.
“It was really fun, but it was nerve-wracking,” Pineda, who in his heavy white chef’s coat said about performing on the main stage at the Garlic Showdown. “It’s been a long weekend working, from pouring beer or putting up tents for other charities. That’s what it’s about, giving back to the community. Give where you live.”
Chef Michael Symon, a native of Cleveland Ohio who sported a Cleveland Browns orange-collared shirt and sandals, took questions from a packed house towards the end of his appearance. The crowd seemed particularly interested to hear tidbits about Symon’s time on Food Network’s Iron Chef.
“I beat Bobby Flay in a foot race once before,” Symon told the crowd. “I told him I’d smoke him; he said no way. I ended up beating him by 10 yards. He’s from the Upper West Side, I’m from Cleveland. When we hear a gun go off, we get going fast.”
One particular family from Fresno made fast friends as dad Joe Guevara took shade to another level with a full-sized patio umbrella that easily kept his family and those around him in the shade.
“I brought my umbrella, now I’m the talk of the town,” said a laughing Joe Guevara, who along with his family made their third trip to the Garlic Festival.
There were more. Gilroy Chamber of Commerce Mark Turner, along with Gilroy Economic Development Corporation President/CEO Tammy Brownlow, and Richie Chavarria poured beers in one of the beer tents. Mike Galvin with the Sportsmen Chefs, cooked peppers and onions in a 10-pound cast iron pan over an open flame. Gilroyan Ron Kirkish worked toward the end of his shift volunteering to answer any question from attendees and Susan Mister took tickets at the beer tent near the Miller Red Barn.
What’s gone is not always forgotten, and if you missed it, don’t stress out too much. Next July, the 41st Gilroy Garlic Festival will be back in business.