Gilroy Today 2007 07 July/Aug

T Gilroy O D A Y Celebration of garlic… a source of community pride and vitality. Festival General Admission: $12.00 Steak Sandwich at Gourmet Alley: $6.00 Bobble Head at the Mercantile: $13.00 Souvenir Wine Glass: $10.00 On July 27th, the 29th Annual Gilroy Garlic Festival will unfold. About 130,000 visitors will flock into our community to help us celebrate the pungent bulb, garlic. And over 4,000 of us will volunteer to help make this year’s event a success. As in past years, there will be lots of great food, cooking demonstrations, children and adult entertainment, arts and crafts and garlic souvenirs. There will also be a couple new things: 1) the authentic Gilroy Garlic Festival garlic french fries as only Gourmet Alley can make them; and, 2) the new Garlic Showdown featuring prominent Bay Area chefs competing in an Iron Chef competition on the Cook-Off Stage at High Noon on Sunday. But the Garlic Festival story isn’t really about a mere three days in July. It’s about a community — a community of volunteers that come together time and time again to not just put on one of the best food festivals in the world but to help the local non-profit organizations do the great jobs that they do throughout the year. In 2006 volunteers contributed almost 42,000 hours of service to the Festival. Assuming an average work year of around 2,080 hours, volunteers contributed the equivalent of about 20 years of work. That is phenomenal! As a result of all those volunteer hours — in the Gilroy Garlic Festival’s 28 years of existence— it has given back some $7,500,000 to the community, an average of over $277,000 per year. Volunteer hours have equated to dollars each year since the very first festival in 1979. Five local nonprofit organizations benefited from the first festival, sharing in the $4,500 that was dispersed. Last year, 2006, 169 organizations shared $253,000. Other contributions have included part of the purchase of the ranch site at Christmas Hill Park and other park improvements totaling $840,000; $200,000 to the Gilroy Foundation, and $250,000 to the Gilroy High School for a new activity center. Also, a $250,000 pledge has been made to the Gilroy Cultural Center with $100,000 already paid. Several organizations use the Festival as an opportunity to develop teamwork and comradery. Have you ever had a chance to watch the Gators Swim Club swarm over the Festival grounds as the gates close? Community Pride: PRICELESS Continued on page 16 July/August 2007 A BI-MONTHLY PUBLICATION FOR AND ABOUT THE COMMUNITY OF GILROY