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2017 Gilroy Garlic Festival Will Be ‘Bigger, Better, Bolder,’ Organizers Say |

2017 Gilroy Garlic Festival Will Be ‘Bigger, Better, Bolder,’ Organizers Say

GILROY, CA — The year’s Gilroy Garlic Festival, scheduled to take place Friday, Saturday and Sunday, July 28-30 at Christmas Hill Park in Gilroy, is shaping up to be “bigger, better and bolder than ever before,” organizers said in a news release.

Thousands of garlic lovers from across the globe are expected to attend the three-day event to partake in great garlicky food — including free garlic ice cream — and enjoy live entertainment, cooking competitions and celebrity chef appearances.

Among the celebrities slated to appear at the 39th annual Gilroy Garlic Festival is Emmy-award-winning celebrity chef, author and Food Network superstar Giada De Laurentiis of “Everyday Italian” and “Giada at Home.” On Sunday, July 30, De Laurentiss will emcee the Garlic Showdown professional chef competition and then prepare one of her own favorite garlic-laced recipes on the Garlic Cook-Off Stage.

Shaun O’Neale, winner of “MasterChef” Season 7 on FOX, is scheduled to appear Friday and Saturday: On Friday to emcee the “Champions for Charity” cooking competition and show off his “flame-up” skills with the Pyro Chefs in Gourmet Alley; and on Saturday to serve as judge in the Great Garlic Cook-Off and perform his own cooking demonstration on the Garlic Cook-Off Stage. O’Neale will also be signing copies of his new cookbook, “My Modern American Table.”

Guests will have their own chance to serve as judges during the second annual Gilroy Garli-Que BBQ Challenge, which combines an officially sanctioned Kansas City Barbeque Society contest on Saturday with a Backyard BBQ Ribs Challenge for amateurs on Sunday. Guests can purchase samples and then cast their votes for the “People’s Choice” awards.

The heart of the Gilroy Garlic Festival is the world-famous Gourmet Alley, the gigantic outdoor kitchen where the “Pyro Chefs” put on a spectacular flame-up show preparing garlic-laced calamari and scampi in huge iron skillets while hundreds of volunteers serve up all the official food of the Garlic Festival. For the first time in several years, the Gourmet Alley chefs are introducing a brand-new dish: deep-fried Gilroy Garlic Shrimp. Other Alley favorites include pepper steak sandwiches, scampi, pasta con pesto, stuffed mushrooms, zesty garlic fried calamari, and sausage sandwiches, as well as garlic fries and garlic bread.

Other vendor booths around the park offer a wide range of food and beverages, serving up everything from barbecued oysters to garlic watermelon to bubble tapioca tea.

This year, the former wine pavilion has been relocated to the mulberry grove near Gourmet Alley so that festival-goers can sample award-winning wines from local vintners in an open-air wine garden.

Live entertainment will take place all three days. On Friday, the Festival will spotlight popular local performers. Visitors on Saturday can enjoy the sounds of “Spicy Soul Saturday,” with three soul/dance bands performing back-to-back on the Amphitheater Stage. And on Sunday, KRTY 95.3 hosts “Hot Country Sunday,” featuring up-and-coming country artists. After the KRTY acts, the Festival welcomes back the popular dance band Entourage.

Arts and crafts areas will be set up on both sides of the park, showcasing creations from over 100 artists, while the Garlic Mercantile stores offer shirts, gourmet products, cookbooks, wine glasses and many other Festival souvenirs.

The children’s area, which has been relocated near the amphitheater stage, will have rides and hands-on arts and crafts activities. Visitors can even learn how to make their own garlic braid and take it home as a unique souvenir, organizers said.

Also this year, festival-goers visitors can take Caltrain on Saturday and Sunday. Round-trip tickets must be purchased online in advance for the special event “Garlic Train,” which departs from the San Jose Diridon Station at 10 a.m. The Garlic Train ticket includes a shuttle bus from the downtown Gilroy train station as well as admission to the Festival. The return train departs from Gilroy at 5 p.m. Riders from as far north as San Francisco can use regular weekend peninsula Caltrain service to connect with the Garlic Train in San Jose; peninsula tickets must be purchased separately from Caltrain.

Visitors are encouraged to download the free Gilroy Garlic Festival app — available from the App Store and Google Play — before they arrive. Features include a live upcoming event feed, map with filters, driving directions, full event schedule, booth listings and more.

The 2017 Gilroy Garlic Festival, presented by Raley’s, Bel Air and Nob Hill Foods, will run from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, July 28-30, at Christmas Hill Park in Gilroy. Admission is $20 for adults, $15 for seniors 60+, $10 for youths ages 10-16, and free for children under 10. Parking is $10 per vehicle and includes shuttle buses to and from the Festival entrance. Gates close at 6 p.m.

Discount tickets are available online at and at any Raley’s, Bel Air and Nob Hill Foods stores.

Photo via Gilroy Garlic Festival

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