David Solorzano carries a hay bale past the garlic bulb and into a shade tent as he volunteers for Orchard Valley Soccer at Christmas Hill Park in preparation for the Garlic Festival. The group also picked up picnic benches at the local schools for use in
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Knock, knock.
Who’s there?
Garlic Festival.
Garlic Festival who?
Garlic Festival who would have thought that it would live on for 35 years, poised on the cusp of plowing more than $10 million into nonprofit community groups, earning our little city worldwide notoriety and building our community through one incredible team effort.
In some ways we – the “we” being the Gilroyans who volunteer or invite friends to come on down and enjoy – take it for granted … runs like clockwork, last full weekend every July, hopefully not too hot, and tell your friends not to miss the calamari flame-up show in Gourmet Alley.
In many other ways, nothing is taken for granted. Gilroy shepherds its festival. An army of past presidents, board members, committee chairs and volunteer team leaders all invest oodles of time not only in the festival’s protection, but in its ongoing and very successful efforts to improve.
That spirit – the Garlic Festival torch, if you will – is carried faithfully by Executive Director Brian Bowe, Assistant Director Joann Kessler and Administrative Support Manager Chris Filice. Good, giving people committed to making our festival the best thing since sliced tri-tip on a Gourmet Alley pepper steak sandwich.
There are the volunteer presidents like Dennis Harrigan this year and Greg Bozzo last year who bring their own flavor to the winning sauce, adding an event here, introducing a new food there or expanding an area there. They are careful, though, not to upset the balance of the Gilroy Garlic Festival universe. That balance with the attention to detail that the planners and executors bring to the table is what keeps the people coming back.
Gilroy knows how to host one terrific party all centered around the glorious bulb that’s good, and good for you.
At the end of the weekend, it’s likely that more than 4 million people will have attended our little party.
Founders Don Christopher and Rudy Melone and G-Fest Godfather Val Filice could never imagined that. It is truly one amazing fairy tale, an ongoing story of a fantastic community that proves each and every year in the middle of summer that when Gilroy works together anything is possible.

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