Chefs Carlos Pineda (left) and Kishon Southy concentrate on their dishes during the Virtual Garlic Festival in 2020. Photo: Erik Chalhoub
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The Gilroy Garlic Festival Association is working with Gavilan College to host a drive-thru Gourmet Alley experience in July.

Festival President Tom Cline presented the plans for the “Gilroy Garlic Festival Days” event to the college’s Board of Trustees on April 13.

The Gilroy Garlic Festival Association said April 14 that the event is not yet confirmed, as negotiations are still underway.

Eyed for the last two weekends in July, attendees would preorder food from a menu that includes Garlic Festival staples, and pick it up at Gavilan College without leaving their vehicle.

After the 2020 Garlic Festival was cancelled due to Covid-19, and with uncertainties still surrounding large-scale events during the pandemic, Cline said the festival wants to reincorporate itself into the community as best it can under public health guidelines.

“It’s really important for us to keep our message in the community,” Cline said. “We’ve been restricted like so many others. We feel it’s important to represent the community in any way we can.”

The festival association has been “working hard the past eight months to find a direction,” he said, while faced with various challenges from not only the pandemic, but the 2019 shooting that killed three people and injured at least 17 others.

In November, the festival began selling specialty T-shirts and masks at various locations in Gilroy, and in recent weeks, it has ramped up its social media presence, with profiles of festival volunteers and garlic-themed recipes, where it’s hinted at a new location for the 2021 event.

Cline told the Gavilan trustees that the festival is looking at another venue to host additional drive-thru events.

Gavilan Board President Edwin Diaz thanked Cline and the festival for the “persistence you’ve shown over the past more than a year.”

“The challenges you’ve had to face are just significant,” he said. “Acknowledging the history of the Garlic Festival, acknowledging the significant contributions the Garlic Festival has made to organizations, schools and nonprofits over the years, it’s something that should be celebrated and recognized. I’m glad Gavilan College can be part of it.”

Trustee Patricia Mondragon called it a “return to its roots,” as former Gavilan College President Rudy Melone was one of the festival’s co-founders.

“It’s heartwarming we are going to have something to signify the Garlic Festival,” she said. “We are eager to be a part of the festival however it’s going to be.”

Trustee Irma Gonzalez, however, said she was “not quite as eager,” adding that she was concerned about the “recurrence of a copycat.” She told Cline that she appreciated the festival scaling down the event, as earlier discussions with Gavilan proposed a slightly larger event.

“I like the idea of the preorders, that takes a lot of the concern away from me,” she said. “I do want it to continue. It’s just the Capricorn in me thinking of all the what-ifs. That’s my hesitation.”

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Erik Chalhoub joined Weeklys as an editor in 2019. Prior to his current position, Chalhoub worked at The Pajaronian in Watsonville for seven years, serving as managing editor from 2014-2019.


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