Gilroy Garlic Festival announces 2021 events

Drive-thru, golf, dinner part of summer series

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Pyro chef Steve Janisch flames up garlic-laden calamari during the Virtual Garlic Festival at Christopher Ranch executive vice president Ken Christopher's home in 2020. Photo: Erik Chalhoub

A drive-thru Gourmet Alley experience, a garlicky dinner and fundraising golf tournament are part of a series of events the Gilroy Garlic Festival has planned in 2021 after a year-long hiatus.

The Gilroy Garlic Festival Association announced the events on April 27.

“We have all been confronted with so many changes due to Covid-19,” said Association President Tom Cline. “There is a great community desire to see the festival come back. Together, we can work to reimagine a Gilroy Garlic Festival that will promote and honor everything that makes Gilroy truly the Garlic Capital of the World.”

The festival is planning a drive-thru Gourmet Alley at Gilroy Presbyterian Church, 6000 Miller Ave., July 23-25 and July 30-Aug. 1. Attendees would preorder food from a menu that includes Garlic Festival staples, and pick it up at the church without leaving their vehicle.

A menu and times will be announced shortly, according to the association.

As of now, the Santa Clara County Public Health Department is not reviewing or approving permits for temporary events, the association said in a statement, adding that it is working with the county to gain approval for the drive-thru.

That could change soon, as Gov. Gavin Newsom has targeted June 15 as the date for California to “fully reopen.”

“It is hoped that by July, the health department will allow the Festival to offer this activity to the public,” the association stated.

Also on the Garlic Festival’s schedule is a “farm-to-table” dinner on July 24 at Fortino Winery, 4525 Hecker Pass Highway in Gilroy, featuring local wine and food.

The Garlic Festival Golf Classic is scheduled for July 30 at the Gilroy Golf Course, with details to be announced in May, according to the association.

“The Gilroy Garlic Festival seeks to be more than one signature event,” Cline said. 

After the 2020 Garlic Festival was cancelled due to Covid-19, festival volunteers have been working behind the scenes to reimagine Gilroy’s signature event in light of new public health protocols.

In November, the association 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 presented a proposal to the Gavilan College Board of Trustees on April 13 for a drive-thru event at the college, but an official announcement has not been made.

“We will continue to work to connect our community with various smaller events, educational activities and giving opportunities throughout the year,” he said. “Our historic mission to strengthen the bonds within our community is an ongoing commitment.”

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