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Gilroy Garlic Festival?

Is it worth going? I've always wanted to go but I hear it's rediculously crowded...what do you guys think? If I go what are some must haves at the festival?

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  1. Everytime I've gone I've been disappointed and I live in the South Bay. I never found food that I'd go back for but then I also get frustrated with the long lines and usually take off part way through the day.

    2 Replies
    1. re: sflegs

      that's kind of what i was afraid of...

      1. re: sflegs

        Plus, it's usually insanely hot, and the traffic/parking is terrible.

        1. If you absolutely must go, be there when they open on the first day and leave by 2pm when it really starts to get hot. Bring lots of water and leave a coouple of frozen bottles in the car for the ride home.

          While it is fun for a bit, it's not something you will go to twice.

          1. K...that's all i needed to know...not going, thanks!

            1. Nearly the exact same food and vendors as any other San Francisco summer festival plus garlic ice cream. Which really isn't all that great after the first "Hmm.. interesting" bite.

              1. i would say it is a must-go...at least once. if you haven't gone before, this is your chance to go. this is not a gourmet fair/festival, so i mean, if you are looking for high-end stuff, this is not the place to go. if you want to have a tasting of food that has garlic, then of course go! parking is not bad because it's free and pretty organized. of course it will be crowded and of course it will be hot and of course there will be lines, that's a given. (complete DUH to me) this is my second time going - not because i am looking for high-end, gourmet, frou frou, stuff - but because i want a day to eat my heart out. i think that's what it's all about: appreciating garlic and being a glutton. that's it. you're supposed to go without any expectations and i believe that is how the festival should be approached. i would say just go so that you don't have to keep wondering. if you are disappointed, that's fine, at least you can say you experienced it.

                4 Replies
                1. re: jobostonisafoodie

                  The food's not good. Why drive a long way to stand in lines in the heat?

                  If you want a day of garlicky gluttony, you could do much better to hit a series of places with great garlic dishes.

                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    I think Xiao Yang, I and possibly even grishnackh* can agree "Nobody goes there anymore. It's too crowded." Yogi Berra

                    *post on Berkeley Bowl's popularity.

                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                      I went on Saturday and I had a FABULOUS time! We kept talking about it throughout the weekend!

                  2. From strictly a food perspecitve I would agree with earlier posters who say that it's not going to be an ultimate experience, but you will find tasty things to eat.

                    Agree with an earlier poster who suggested going on Friday (or if you must attend on the weekend, get there early) which will minimize the traffic/parking hassels.

                    Actually the parking and other logistics are managed very well by the volunteers who staff the fair.

                    Notice that I said "volunteers", the entire event is put on by the city, and various civic groups, and most of the money that you will spend on food and drink will be directly benefiting causes and groups that man the attractions and food stands.

                    There are also different types of musical stages, some low key, some with enthusiastic dancing. There is a kid's area, and lots of other things to see and do.

                    I have no connection with the Fest, I have just attended a few times and really enjoyed it.

                    So if you want a day out in the sun, with some food and music, you can visit the festival and know that you have contributed to some good causes.

                    1. Since i grew up in Gilroy I have gone every year since I can remember, Go on friday ( that is the day all the locals go) Get there early, and leave early if you can. As others have stated, the food there is not high end gourmet, but if you want to try a little bit of everyting the "Gourmet Alley" has to offer I suggest you get both combo plates, you will get to try everyting without haveing to stand in all the long lines. My favorite is the pepper steak sandwich, garlic bread, which you dip in the shrimp scampi. (yum) Expect to pay alot for beer, wine ect.and the frozen lemonaids are quite refreshing. And while you sip on your beverage there are a bunch of arts and craft booths to look at, music stages with local bands. If you do go on a Saturday, stay for Shaboom around noonish, but beware, there will be alot of drunk 21ish people hanging around there. lol I say go at least once espically if you love garlic, and don't forget to try the ice cream (it's free) Don't worry about bringing gum, no one will notice your breath :) Have fun, this will be my first year in over 20 years not going to the festival as i'm 9 months preggers.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Hello Kitty

                        The hubby and I went yesterday, his first time, my probably 5+. My favorite items from Gourmet Alley (although not really gourmet) are indeed the shrimp scampi and the garlic bread. Dipping the bread in the scampi sauce as Kitty suggested is wonderful. I also really enjoy the mushrooms both marinated and stuffed varieties. The calamari is pretty good. I'm underwhelmed by both the pepper steak (bland and dry) and garlic sausage (just ok and not very garlicky) sandwiches and the pesto penne (garlicky but not enough salt). The garlic ginger stir-fry was a new item for me yesterday and it was decent.

                        Watching the "tough guys" manning the big saute pans in the demonstration cooking area of Gourmet Alley was pretty cool too. The flames are big and sometimes go right up to the ceiling!

                        We also got ears of roasted corn with garlic butter (nice garlic flavor and wonderfully sweet) which were fantastic, a plate of cajun crawdads (probably not the best preparation but fun to eat at the festival nonetheless), and some garlic kettle corn to take home (unfortunately the garlic threw off the balance of sweet and salty that defines kettle corn so I would go back to the regular kettle corn next time).

                        We watched the very end of the "Iron Chef" like cooking competition on Sunday. It seemed like a fun event. We'll have to get to the stage earlier next time to see the actual cooking.

                        I also agree that the parking is very well organized by the volunteers.

                        We had a lot of fun and the hubby thoroughly enjoyed his first visit. It was a nice way to spend a few hours eating, looking through the Arts and Crafts booths, and watching a community really come together.

                      2. We went to the Garlic festival over a decade ago. I would compare it to our trip to China six months ago: Happy to have gone and seen it; happy to not feel compelled to go again.

                        SO HOT! On the upside, how many times in your life do you get to sample garlic ice cream?

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: grantham

                          If you are ever in Oakland, Nieves Cinco de mayo has garlic ice cream.

                        2. Although I'm from Nor Cal and always wanted to attend, I've never been. I live in LA now so my friend and I drove 4.5 hours each way last Saturday (7/25/09) in order to go. I can say it was worth every minute. I admit that after 31 years in operation, I was expecting it to be a larger festival but it was awesome nevertheless. Things we were glad we did:

                          * Arrive early (by 11am at the latest)
                          * Try less potent garlic dishes first as to not kill your tastebuds immediately (i.e. ice cream)
                          * The Paella from Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme Catering Company was AMAZING but the aioli was super garlic (yum!!!) so save it for last
                          * Enter the 'local' way rather than off the 101

                          The parking was fine for us because we arrived so early. Also, I was personally glad I tried the less conventional things such as garlic ice cream and snow cones because they ended up being really interesting and after all, aren't we all there for the garlic experience?

                          I recommend going if you live within a 6 hour drive of Gilroy.