Garlic Fest ’15: A record-setting year for Gilroy

Gilroy Garlic Festival advisory committee members pose for a photo in front of the garlic bulb at the conclusion of the 2014 Gilroy Garlic Festival July 27.

GILROY—It was a record-setting year for the Gilroy Garlic Festival, and not for the heat. More money was generated this year than ever in the festival’s 37-year history, 2015 festival president Deanna Franklin said Monday.
More than 95,000 guests took in the sights, tastes and experiences of the festival over the July 24-26 weekend. Attendees helped raise $2.1 million.
The Garlic Festival Association’s board will meet soon to determine how much of that money, minus expenses, will be distributed to local nonprofits and community organizations.
“My smile can’t get any bigger. This is going to make a huge difference to all our nonprofits,” Franklin told the Dispatch on Monday. “I feel like I’m floating, it was such a success.”
The Garlic Festival saw a 25 percent increase in revenue over last year.
More than 4,000 volunteers came together to raise funds for everything from their high school sports teams to church groups. Rather than being paid for each hour of volunteer work, funding goes directly to the clubs or organizations volunteers represent.
“We had a great year. It was the ride of a lifetime with all the volunteers and the team I had,” Franklin said.
“Our volunteers truly deserve to have something like this happen,” Franklin said, referring to this year’s jump in revenue.
Temperatures at the festival were in the 80s and 90s, down from last year.
“The weather sure cooperated this year. It was nice,” Garlic Festival Association Executive Director Brian Bowe said. A heat wave in 2014 caused temperatures to hit the 100s and contributed to a drop in attendance over 2013.
Last year, 80,848 guests attended the festival.
Franklin said both milder temperatures and a wide variety of entertainment helped draw bigger crowds.
“Our entertainment alone throughout the park nailed every aspect you could possible want, whether you like country, blues or mariachi,” she said. “We really did a bang up job.”
This year, she added, love was in the air. A couple that first met during the Garlic Festival 19 years ago renewed their vows on the cook-off stage Sunday.
“I was in tears, watching them enjoy the atmosphere of the festival those two individuals love,” Franklin said. “Knowing two people would want to share something like that at the Garlic Festival is pretty cool. It just hits home for me.”
Asked when preparations begin for 2016’s Garlic Festival, Franklin said planning has already begun.
“We’re so invested as a team, all of us, we’re even working at the festival to improve it for next year,” she said. “You’re always thinking about the following year, you have to.”
“Every single person that has been involved, past and present, has added so much and helped us get to the point where we’re at in the festival’s 37 years. Having a successful year can only warm a president’s heart,” Franklin added. “I’m sad it’s over.”
The 38th annual Gilroy Garlic Festival will take place July 29-31, 2016.
The 38th annual Gilroy Garlic Festival takes place July 29, 30 and 31 in 2016.
Attendance: 95,095 (up 18 percent from last year, based on preliminary results)
Revenue: $2,155,693 (up 25 percent from last year)
Source: 2015 Gilroy Garlic Festival President Deanna Franklin