Monday, July 29, 2013

For the love of garlic: Gilroy Garlic Festival 2013

It's a party out there, garlic lovers!

Hot. Crowded. Overpriced. Or was it?

yelped Gilroy Garlic Festival the night before we were supposed to attend with friends. The annual event was celebrating its 35th year and the organisers expected even bigger crowds than last year's 100,000 visitors.

I told Panda, be warned that things are gonna be expensive, traffic will be real bad, and we will all be hot and sweaty like pigs.

Turns out, only the part on weather was true. Traffic was slow but not stagnant on US-101 and road signs led us easily to the free parking lots. Because of the heat, we didn't wait for the shuttle bus but simply took a 5-min walk to the entrance. We had already purchased our discounted tickets from the official website, so there was no need to stand in line and pay $17 per pax.

Once inside I was taken aback by the scale of the garlic festival; it was akin to a mega BBQ party in the midst of a forest. Food vendors lined the sides, tents set up everywhere, live performances at different areas. We didn't purchase the $1 programme guide so we were a little disoriented. I vaguely knew that there would be a cook-off for amateurs and a showdown for top chefs. But we were just too hungry, so we went straight for light snacks - garlic fries, crab garlic fries and key lime calamari.

Garlic fries and key lime calamari

Garlic fries with crab toppings

I was all ready to try other food like garlic corn, garlic bread, shrimp and ribs etc. Sadly, all six adults felt too full for anything else after the 'light' snacks - what a pity! We ended up walking around the craft stalls and drinking beer to quench our thirst. I bought a tin mug with the beer as a souvenir.

Checking out the arts & craft stalls

The cute Olympic bulb of fire

Garlic ice-cream was also a main feature and Joel and Jo took the lead to try it. I had the unfortunate experience of tasting it at a Vancouver ice-cream factory so it was a big no-no for me.  But the adventurous duo looked extremely pleased with their ice-cream challenge.

Say "garlic ice-cream"!

We hung around, watched some performances and checked out other merchandise before leaving the festival. I bought 3 large garlic bulbs at 50c each just to see how fresh they are compared to the regular ones. On our walk back to the car, we passed by this yellow grassy field. We decided to do the typical Asian tourists pose.

Spread your hands, please!

A selfie with my garlic!

Verdict at the end of the festival? Bring water, wear sunscreen, put on a hat and go with an open mind.

We had so much fun as first timers. Who knows, if the programme is attractive enough, we might come back next year if we are still around the area!

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