The Annual Gilroy Garlic Festival Stinks — and That is a Good Thing

Reading this article pertaining to the Gilroy Garlic Festival — which was written by Keri Anderson of Heels First Travel — reminded me when I attended this annual event years ago.

The Annual Gilroy Garlic Festival Stinks — and That is a Good Thing

I remember driving alone south on United States Highway 101 into Gilroy from the Silicon Valley area — and that familiar pungent odor of my favorite bulb welcomed by my olfactory sense confirmed that I was nearing the self-proclaimed garlic capital of the world long before I reached its borders.

I paid the entrance fee and studied the festive atmosphere, complete with loud music, booths with vendors selling their garlic-laced wares, and plenty of people. I typically eschew crowds, but bizarrely I did not mind them this time — perhaps it was knowing that I was one amongst many fellow garlic aficionados who had entered the closest venue to garlic heaven. I wasted no time in sampling the food offerings.

Sure, there was the typical standard fare: garlic bread, garlic pasta, garlic chicken and garlic seafood. However, there were also items not usually associated with garlic — I sampled the garlic-flavored candy and garlic chocolate and enjoyed them but passed on the garlic beer, as I do not drink alcoholic beverages — but the most memorable item for me was the garlic ice cream.

Garlic Ice Cream?!?

There is nothing like ice cream on a hot day on the western edge of central California, which can average close to 90° Fahrenheit with low humidity — but what would garlic ice cream be like to experience? How can something that elicits the look of astonishment on the face of anyone to whom I impart actually taste good?

The only way I can describe it is this: upon lifting what could arguably be called a delicacy from the cardboard cup with the ubiquitous white plastic spoon to my mouth, my curiosity was initially dampened by the banal flavor of what appeared to be vanilla. Immediately after shrugging my shoulders in disappointment upon swallowing that first mouthful of the creamy white frozen confection, the garlic kicked in with a welcomed vengeance and enveloped my entire palate.

“Cool!” I thought. I was one “happy camper”, as that kick delivered a feeling of gastronomic satisfaction.

Garlic, Garlic Everywhere

I spent several hours in the hot July sun, overloading — but not overdosing — on garlic to the point where I emerged from the festival absolutely reeking of garlic oozing through what seemed to be all of the pores of my skin. Despite showering in my hotel room later that evening, I will never know if the clients I eventually visited during that trip were offended by that pungent odor which may have still faintly emitted from my body.

Anyway, here are some older discussions pertaining to the Gilroy Garlic Festival which have been posted to FlyerTalk over the years:


The Gilroy Garlic Festival occurs every year at Christmas Hill Park during the last weekend in July; so you just missed the event — as well as your opportunity to meet Keri Anderson there in person — this year. Admission prices for a single day were as follows in 2017; so I do not know if they will increase in 2018:

Adult General Admission $20.00
Youth 10-16 years of age $10.00
Younger than age 10 Free
Senior Citizens 60 years of age and older $15.00
Active Military $15.00 — You must present valid United States Military identification
Friday Locals’ Day $15.00 Adult and $10.00 for Senior Citizens
Local Resident 3-Day Pass $30.00
Parking $10.00

The parking lots open at 9:00 each morning.

Mark your calendar — not colander, unless you are preparing some garlic pasta — for Friday, July 27 through Sunday, July 29, 2018, which is when the event will occur once again if you want to attend. Starting in June of 2018, you can purchase advance tickets at and print them at at home; and you can save two dollars when you purchase a Gourmet Alley Combo Plate with your advance ticket…

…and how about some artichokes to go with that garlic? Ric Garrlickido — er…I mean Ric Garrido — of Loyalty Traveler had written this article pertaining to an artichoke festival in Monterey County, California greater than five years ago.

The 59th annual Castroville Artichoke Food and Wine Festival will occur during Saturday, June 2 from 10:00 in the morning through 6:00 in the evening; and Sunday, June 3, 2018 from 10:00 in the morning through 5:00 in the afternoon at the Monterey Fairgrounds, which is located almost 40 miles southwest of the location for the Gilroy Garlic Festival. I have never been to the artichoke festival — I am not getting all artichoked up about it — but I am certain that people who enjoy dining on this variety of the thistle species must attend. Admission for 2017 is $15.00 for adults; $10.00 for active members of the military; and free for senior citizens 62 years of age and older — as well as for children 12 years of age and younger. Tickets can either be purchased at the door or in advance.

Anyway, the Gilroy Garlic Festival has grown in terms of both garlic offerings and the number of attendees since I visited it years ago.

Photographs by Bill Strange Photography and Lara Schraft. Source: Gilroy Garlic Festival.

7 thoughts on “The Annual Gilroy Garlic Festival Stinks — and That is a Good Thing”

  1. Jean says:

    Garlic smell does not offend me but $20 admission and $10 parking do. Is that a California norm? How much did you spend eating and drink at the festival?

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      I agree, Jean.

      When I went years ago, the admission was slightly greater than half that amount — and I do not remember paying for parking.

  2. colleen says:

    “… the garlic kicked in with a welcomed vengeance and enveloped my entire palette.”

    * palate

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      That one slipped by me, colleen. Thank you for catching that. I appreciate it…

      …and as an artist who owns and has used at least one palette, I should have caught that…

  3. I enjoy garlic added to some meals, but garlic ice cream is just going wayyyy overboard.

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      Have you tried it, Lee @ BaldThoughts?

      Believe it or not, it is quite good. I would eat it again. As I wrote, the flavor of the ice cream itself was mild; and then I felt the garlic kick in afterwards — but it was not disgusting.

      If I recall, you are based in California. If so, how far are you from Gilroy?

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