Gilroy Garlic Festival 2021: What to know before you go

Bay Area

GILROY, Calif. (KRON) — The Gilroy Garlic Festival is returning for the first time this weekend after two difficult years marked by a massacre and a pandemic.

And with the highly contagious delta variant of COVID-19 spreading around, visitors will have an altered experience from the past four decades to keep safety a priority.

The 2021 festival will be held in two weekends now rather than the previous one weekend per year. It starts Friday, July 23 at 4 p.m. through the 25th. Then, the festival reopens the following weekend from July 30-August 1.

Tom Cline, Gilroy Garlic Festival organizer

Organizer Tom Cline said they had to reimagine the festival for the resilient community of Gilroy. “With all the challenges we were facing… this made the best sense,” he added.

Popular Gourmet Alley has become a pre-ordered drive-thru, but your favorites are still available: juicy pepper steak sandwiches, shrimp scampi and of course, their famous garlic bread.

The drive-thru Gourmet Alley will be held from 4-7 p.m. on Fridays and from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, the festival website said.

The menu includes the following:

  • Steak Combo: Pepper Steak Sandwich, Shrimp Scampi,
    World-Famous Garlic Bread, $25
  • Sausage Combo: Sausage Sandwich, Shrimp Scampi,
    World-Famous Garlic Bread, $25
  • Pepper Steak Sandwich, $14
  • Sausage Sandwich, $14
  • World-Famous Garlic Bread: Half Loaf, $10
  • Garlic Fries, $10
  • Shrimp Scampi, $10
  • Bottled Water, Soda, $5
Gourmet Alley drive-thru

Festival organizers say it’s been “creatively reimagined.” But there are plenty of events to still enjoy – including some virtual ones.

A Farm-to-Table dinner at Fortino’s Winery is included this year, but it will be in an “intimate outdoor” setting. The Golf Tournament is also back.

This time around however, live music will be on hold.

“We had to make the plans. We had to make the choices and we went for it,” Cline tells KRON4.

Not making a comeback was not an option, as the festival benefits several local charities and non-profit groups while celebrating delicious garlic in all its forms.

Organizers are hoping to remind everyone of the fun of the festival since the 2019 tragedy, where a shooter opened fire and killed three visitors. A ceremony will be part of the festival to honor the victims.

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