– While relaxing under the sun at his lush, green Georgia
plantation, he’s far away from his days cooking calamari. But past
president Bob Miller can still smell the mouth-watering aromas of
Gourmet Alley like it was yesterday.
Greensboro, Ga. – While relaxing under the sun at his lush, green Georgia plantation, he’s far away from his days cooking calamari. But past president Bob Miller can still smell the mouth-watering aromas of Gourmet Alley like it was yesterday.
It’s actually been 11 years since Miller started cooking his way up from Gourmet Alley. Later, he moved up to being a member of the board of directors and finally held the position of president. A year after his reign over the garlic festivities, Miller retired from his medical supply company, and he and his wife Mary moved to their Greensboro plantation, where they both sell real estate. Although he is thousands of miles from his former stinky hometown, Miller said he is surprised at how much he is reminded of Gilroy.
“I get amazed every time people out here know about the festival and the ‘Garlic Capital of the World,’ ” Miller said. “I’ve met people out here who have been or plan to make the cross-country trip to the festival.”
Miller attended the first Garlic Festival and said the rise in attendance from a few thousand people in 1979 to 125,409 visitors in 2002 has to do with a heightened popularity of the star of the festivities – garlic.
“It seems like during the past decade, garlic has become a household word, and more and more people are using it,” he said.
Miller says the festival is great because of the free parking and outstanding entertainment and crafts. But it is peoples’ taste buds that keep them coming back year after year.
“It’s obvious the entertainment is great, but when you get right down to it, it’s the food that draws the crowds,” he said.
One of Miller’s fondest memories of being president was the amount of community involvement. That type of involvement is still prevalent today.
“It’s remarkable to see the spirit of the community grow during the months before the festival,” Miller said. “It was always a little sad when the three days of fun were over, but a couple months later everyone would be planning again and getting all fired up for the year to come.”
Miller also said it’s heartwarming to see a community come together and put on such a huge event.
“Being president is nice, but it’s really the community members that make this festival happen,” he said. “As president, you are in charge of seeing things through, but it’s really the hard work and determination of the people in the community that make this festival such a success.”
As for the future of the celebration of food, entertainment and the community under the sweltering summer sun, Miller said he sees the festival continuing to flourish.
“This is what makes Gilroy such a great place to live,” he said. ” … everyone getting together to celebrate and at the same time coming together as a community.”
After being in Georgia for 10 years, away from the peppersteak sandwiches, garlic bread and scampi, Miller plans to come back to Gilroy this summer for the 25th anniversary and smell the mouth-watering aromas he’s kept in his thoughts for more than a decade.
“It will be nice to catch up with old friends and see in person how big the festival has actually become,” he said.