The Gilroy Garlic Festival Where: Gilroy, California, 
south of San Jose on Highway 101
  July 23-25 2004
 Always the last weekend in July

Some Things You Ought to Know about California's annual Gilroy Garlic Festival
Where To Stay
Where To Eat
  1. It's easy to find, just south of San Francisco and San Jose, along Highway 101. Then just follow your nose. The scent of "the stinking rose" is ubiquitous, omnipotent, even---triggering urges omnivorous. The sweet stench of garlic will get in your hair and will cling to your clothes. If you are a Wonder-Bread-and-mayo type, and do not much care for garlic, don't go along just to please your Uncle. You will reek for hours. (So will your uncle.)
  2. All right, it's funky. Dust is everywhere. This is no place to wear your Ralph Laurens. Sneaks and shorts are more like it. But when you hear them leedle clove-arinos poppin' and slidin' and a-sizzlin' in the big big festival pans, and see the cooks fixing mountains of garlic bread, plus Greek, Mexican, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Thai, American and International pastas, stuffed mushrooms and stir-fry dishes, this beckoning,
  3. Mouth-surfing symphony of flavours and exotic tastes suddenly becomes so much more important than muddy sandals, pooling grease stains on your old Jimi Hendrix t-shirt, and butter running down your leg. This is a great place to roadtest a new romance, if you like risks.
  4. And it's certainly camp. Some folks are selling garlic bulbs dressed as celebrities ("Stormin' Norman Garlikopf", "Aero Sniff", "The Fumigator"), and a "self-cleaning" garlic press. Oh, don't leave out the Clovettes, the men and women in garlic bulb hats who jog at the festivals, exuding a type of booming good health and bonhomie that is an inspiration to all of us who love good clean American living and people who dress as centipedes. You are invited to dress up, too, as the herb superb: many do. Those who prefer a more soignee look can buy garlic hats.
  5. Over in the children's area Herbie, a "junior garlic character", will greet the little dears. Here also is the no-garlic zone, where you'll find bland fast foods that most kids adore. Kids will also snap up garlic photos, game booths, face-paints, clowns, magicians, marionettes, balloon animals, crafts and hosts of charming retail items and mementos that Mommies will undoubtedly wish to acquire. Park the kiddies here. You go back to Gourmet Alley.
  6. Breathe deep. As you stroll along, sniffing and snuffling, your senses made sharp in this cacaphonous Smell-o-Rama of flaming pans and feral, gustatory lusts, the little mushrooms scream "Eat Me!" and the barbeque bubbles and winks in the California sun. Get ahold of yourself. There was an earthquake here, you know. Garlic lovers hardly noticed.
  7. Consider these garlic facts: Garlic is good for you. Boosts the immune system, banishes vampires, de-clogs the old pipes. For over 6000 years, yogis in India have warned seekers of peace and chastity to stay away from garlic, calling it rajasic, a major-league aphrodisiac. Those it does not scare away it makes bolder.
  8. Ice cream can't make that claim, not chocolate, likker or snuff. The more you eat that bad, bad old bulb, and the hungrier you get for it, and more your body thanks you. So try to overlook the brash, absurd and occasionally disgusting excesses of the annual Gilroy fests (more on that later), there is too much to savour and learn about the bulb to miss.
  9. There are 684,222,288,205 ways to cook with garlic. And that's just the dishes with turnips. The Great Garlic Recipe Contest and Cook-off will show you 7,500,188 more. Here famous chefs and food critics preside over exotic festival dishes made from original and unpublished recipes. First prize is $1000. If you'd like to get in on this action, you must apply early for an entry form. Or just go for the judging and samplings at the festival. Clear your palate with the rather nice local wines from the Santa Clara valley, available throughout. During previous three day stinkfests, cooks used more than eight tons of garlic: with 136,000 people in attendance last year, the wine figures cannot be running far behind.  
  10. As with any festival whose origins are in France, with wine comes song: music and entertainment on four stages, running continuously from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.. And if you're in the neighbourhood, there's a big western barn dance the weekend before the festival, with dancing to bands like "Chaparral" and "Shaboom". If you'd like to two-step with the locals, tickets must be ordered in advance. Bring your cowboy hat.
  11. If sports are your thing, the Gilroy Garlic Festival's golf and tennis tournaments and Tour de Garlique bicycle events will let you sign up---but again, sadly, only way in advance. You are in luck, however, if you just turn up for Bonnie Gillio's daily festival classes on garlic braiding. You will learn how to make the neighbours mad while you grow and harvest the little devil. Everybody will have a chance to enter a garlic "topping" contest on each of the three festival days.
  12. But what about some of the disgusting stuff I promised to tell you about?
  13. Garlic chocolate for sale here. As is garlic ice cream. And---look out---garlic iced tea. If you wish to torture your children, you can always get them garlic snow cones.  

BEING THERE at California's  Gilroy Garlic Festival

Where To Stay: San Jose

No matter how much you love garlic, your best bet is to get away from the smells and stay in nearby San Jose, "Capital of the Silicon Valley" and worthy of exploration all by itself. There's Raging Waters Aquatic Theme Park, the Egyptian Museum (with 3000 year old mummies), a huge flea market, the NASA Ames Research Centre, the Chinese Cultural Gardens, Japanese Friendship Gardens, the touchy-feely Children's Discovery Museum, brilliant restaurants, and of course, the area is jammed with the equally entrancing , jovial cyberpunks and computer geniuses who make Silicon Valley internationally famous.


The Hyatt,
1740 North First Street, San Jose 95112-4584
Tel (408) 993-1234 or 1-800-233-1234
Le Baron,
1350 North First Street, San Jose 95112
Tel (408) 453-6200 or 1-800-662-9896 (within California)
1-800-538-6818 (outside California)

The Arena Hotel, 817 The Alameda, San Jose 95126
Tel (408) 294-6500 or 1-800-882-1984
Best Western Gateway Inn, 2585 Seaboard Ave., San Jose 95131
Tel (408) 435-8800 or 1-800-437-8855

Cheap and Cheerful:
Days Inn, 4170 Monterey Road, San Jose 95111
Tel (408) 224-4122 or 1-800-325-2525

Howard Johnson, 1755 North First St. San Jose 95112
Tel (408) 453-3133 or 1-800-654-2000

Garlicky gastronomy tends to whet the appetite. And you thought you'd only eat at the delicious Festival, but..!There are still some exotic dishes sadly missing from Gilroy. No Indian food, for example---shame! And no Big Macs. Happily, the restaurants of San Jose will easily fill in the gaps.
Taj India Cuisine, 118 East Santa Clara St.
Tel. (408) 993-0661
El Maghreb Moroccan Restaurant, 145 West Santa Clara St.
Tel (408) 294-2243, and belly dancing too.
California Cuisine
California Kitchen, 150 s. First St., #111
Tel (408) 288-6297
White Lotus Vegetarian Restaurant,
80 N. Marker St.(408) 977-0540 

For all the info, rules and regs on golf events, tennis, runs, walks, jogs, bicycle tours, barn dance tickets, the Great Garlic Recipe Contest and Cook-off or anything else you can imagine, call the Festival Office at (408) 842-1625 or go to website



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