Garlic all the way

Top Ten Things Not to Miss at Gilroy Garlic Festival

SPICY COOL Christopher High School alumni Linda Craighill, Brittini Bombino and Kyle Robinson sample the garlic ice cream during the 37th annual Garlic Festival. Photo: File Art
With the Gilroy Garlic Festival mere days away, you may be wondering what this year’s event is bringing to the table (other than the strong-smelling bulb).

Todd Trekell, the 2018 Gilroy Garlic Festival president, says the festival’s committee surveyed customers last year with the goal to evolve and to meet customers’ needs. He believes these needs will be met this year, with the return of old festival favorites and some new attractions.

Excited to celebrate its 40th anniversary, Trekell gives his Top Ten List of Things To Do at the 40th annual Gilroy Garlic Festival July 27-29.


  1. Arts and Crafts

Expect to see various South Bay vendors back.


“A lot of people forget, yes, we are ‘America’s Premiere Summertime Food Festival,’ but we’re also an arts and crafts festival as well,” Trekell says.  


  1. Great Garlic Giveaway—NEW!

The first 4,000 attendees of the festival will receive a bulb of garlic in its original Christopher Ranch packaging.

“It’s just a way for us to really thank our customers and attendees for coming,” Trekell says of the gift sponsored by Christopher Ranch.


  1. Garlic Ice Cream

Olam International, in partnership with the festival, is bringing back the creamy treat—if you don’t mind waiting in line.


  1. Music Entertainment

Entourage the Band, a festival favorite, will be returning on the Amphitheatre Stage on Sunday, July 29.

And KRTY 95.3 is bringing back Hot Country Sunday, featuring rising country music stars Mitchell Tenpenny, Travis Denning and Cale Dodds—also performing on the Amphitheater Stage on Sunday.


  1. Wine Garden

In partnership with the Gilroy Rotary Club, the festival has brought back the Wine Garden, with some additional tweaks “to make it even better,” Trekell says.

“It’s just an incredible opportunity for our South County vintners to show off some great wines that they produce.”


  1. Garlic Chef Junior Competition—NEW!

Eight aspiring chefs, ages 6-15, will each create a dish containing at least six cloves of garlic. The youngsters will be competing in an Iron Chef-style cooking competition on the Cook-Off Stage on Friday, hosted by MasterChef Season 7 Winner Shaun O’Neale.


  1. Electric Clove Dance Tent—NEW!

99.7 NOW! Will be presenting the electronic dance music hotspot.   

“We heard from the younger set is that there’s not a lot for them to do,” Trekell says. “They said, ‘We want some electronic dance music.’ Hey, we’ll try anything once!”


  1. The Gilroy Garlic Festival’s Signature Cocktail—NEW!

For adults 21 and older, the festival is introducing the Garlic Festival Mule,  a spin on the Moscow Mule.

With Absolut providing the vodka and Top Hat providing the ginger beer, the beverage can be found at two different locations at the festival—the park side and the ranch side.


  1. Gourmet Alley

Expect to find your favorite dishes, such as pepper steak sandwiches, pasta con pesto and garlic fries. The Gilroy Garlic Shrimp that debuted last year also returns.


And don’t miss the Pyro Chefs do their world famous flame-ups while preparing the scampi and calamari.


  1. Celebrity Chefs

“When you look at some of the top things I’m excited about, it’s certainly having both Michael Symon and Brian Boitano,” Trekell says.


That’s right folks, The Chew star Iron Chef Michael Symon, and Olympic Champion and Food Network star Brian Boitano will be hosting and cooking on the Challenge Butter Cook-Off Stage—Boitano on Saturday and Symon on Sunday. And MasterChef Season 7 Winner Shaun O’Neale is back for a second year to host cooking competitions on the Cook-Off Stage on Friday.


The Gilroy Garlic Festival runs from Friday, July 27, to Sunday, July 29, from 10am to 7pm. (Entrance gates close at 6pm). Purchase tickets at the gate or save $2 and purchase online at


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