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December 4, 2023

Guest View: Heartbeat of Gilroy

It was a warm Thursday summer evening, and everything was in place. I stepped back and was completely in awe.

In previous years, I had seen the wonder of creating a venue in a matter of days, having a celebration of Garlic and family for a weekend, and then quickly taking it down. Given the tragedy of 2019 and the fallout from Covid, for the first time in 41 years there is no Gilroy Garlic Festival. And with that, there is still such uncertainty.

People use many terms when describing the Gilroy Garlic Festival. But when defined, it is all about a community that found itself through a Festival that has given so much back. And that is what sets us apart. Dedicated people who have come together over the years to make the festival everything the community loves and enjoys. Of course, the Festival has had its difficulties. But the heartbeat of this association has remained strong and continues to pulse throughout the community.

As we moved into 2021, many options, venues, and scenarios were explored. At the end of the day, the drive-thru was the best choice available to us. But would it work, and would the public receive it?

When I walked through the recreated Gourmet Alley at Gilroy Presbyterian Church last summer, I knew we had pulled off what so many had considered impossible. At that moment, my heart swelled with so much pride for our association and our community. To see the smiles of the volunteers, all the association members, and the leadership was beyond words. As we progressed through the next 10 days, the excitement from all the patrons picking up their orders resonated in the whole facility. We had found a solution to what seemed like an impossible problem, and, in doing so, brought a true Gilroy experience back into the community.

Fast forward to today. With the postponement of our beloved Festival for 2022, so much has been said. I want to point one thing out. It’s not the size of the event that counts. It’s the size of the heart. And Gilroy’s heart is big, and it is strong. And yes, there will be another day for this grand event we call our own Gilroy Garlic Festival and hopefully that will be soon. The comeback story will be written when we all work together for common ground and purpose to see it through.

Tom Cline is the past president of Gilroy Garlic Festival Association Board of Directors.

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