What started with the hot and dusty job of parking cars, turned
into a president position for Glenn Suyeyasu.
What started with the hot and dusty job of parking cars, turned into a president position for Glenn Suyeyasu.
“I felt fulfillment getting my hands dirty,” he said.
After parking cars out in the sun for five years, Suyeyasu moved up to chairman of parking. Once elected to the board of directors, Suyeyasu became president in a pretty unusual way.
“I remember we had a meeting, and they said ‘Glenn no one else wants to do it, so you’re the next president,'” he said.
Suyeyasu took his year as president in stride instead of running around like a crazy person.
“I just relaxed and enjoyed myself,” he said.
During his term in 1987, Suyeyasu and his team worked to make the festival more family oriented and offered events geared toward different age groups and genders.
“I just think it is such a well-run festival, and it evolved into more with the children’s area for kids, and the arts and crafts for the women,” he said. “It’s really great that besides food, there is something for everyone’s interests.”
Even though the Garlic Festival Association worked hard in 1987 to promote the festivities more, Suyeyasu agrees it’s the people who make it successful.
“I’m sure everyone else agrees that it’s an amazing thing to see an entire community come together for three whole days and work their tails off,” he said.
Besides the prestige of being president, Suyeyasu said the best part of being involved with the festival is the friends he met.
“It’s almost like family,” he said. “You get to see the same people year in and year out.”
The family of the festival brought Suyeyasu his own family. He met his future wife Peggy Burris, years after his presidency, when they were introduced by a friend in the association.
“Year after year we would just walk by and make small talk with each other, and finally it turned into a relationship,” he said. “The festival not only brought me a good time but it also brought me Peggy.”
Suyeyasu was the youngest festival president at only 30 years old, and he said this was one of the turning points of his presidency.
“This was very important because it gave me the opportunity to prove that a young person could run the show,” he said. “I had to set the example for my generation.”
1987 was also a great year for attendance – almost too great.
“I remember getting a call that Saturday from one of the gates,” he said. “There were so many people they created a gridlock, and people couldn’t get in or out. It was pretty scary.”
Suyeyasu said his focus during his presidency was a change of philosophy.
“I really wanted to see the festival go from a drunken beer weekend to a family-oriented event,” he said. “Every year when I come back now I can see the idea has successfully been accomplished.”
Suyeyasu and his wife will both be back for the 25 anniversary, and they can’t wait to get their favorite food at the festival – key lime calamari.
One of the hopes Suyeyasu has for the future of the festival is a permanent Gourmet Alley on sight at Christmas Hill.
“I think it would make things more convenient when setting up and cleaning up,” he said. “Plus people can enjoy having the set up on sight during the rest of the year.”