As fans walked up to AT&T Park last Friday, there was a distinct smell in the air. It’s a smell that Gilroy residents know all too well: Garlic.
The Giants, in conjunction with the Gilroy Garlic Festival, hosted their 2nd Annual Giants Garlic Fest at the park. The event was held in Seals Plaza, with about 1,500 people attending to enjoy the pregame festivities. Fans were treated to a live performance from the San Francisco-based band ‘The Famous’ as well their choice of garlic fries or fried calamari, the festival’s newest dish.
“Being in a new a city, we get to talk to a lot of people who maybe haven’t heard about the festival before,” Garlic Festival Queen Olivia Echeverria said. “We get to try the new dish that we have — the fried calamari — so that’s going over really well.”
The queen and her court were joined at the event by the likes of Mr. Garlic — Gerry Foisy — as well as this year’s festival president Dennis Harrigan. Fans at the event ranged from lifelong Garlic Festival attendees like Gilroy natives Lupe and Debbie Urdiales to first-timers like Candace and Josh Bordessa from Pacifica.
“We want to go (to the Garlic Festival),” Candace Bordessa said. “I bought these tickets back in November specifically for the Garlic Festival.”
The Bordessas said that their experience at the Giants Garlic Fest has them excited to attend the full scale event in Gilroy July 26-28. In fact, they have already made sure to keep that weekend open for their trip to the “Garlic Capital of the World”.
“It’s excellent; I’m Italian so I know garlic,” Josh Bordessa said. “I like being able to come here first to this and relax and then be able to go into the game all pumped up. It’s great.”
The event was the perfect combination for attendees Micki Pirozzoli — the 2006 festival president — and niece Janet Krulee, an advisory board member, who come from a family of Giants fans. Their family includes five generations of Gilroy Garlic Festival volunteers, starting with their great-great grandmother who turned 100 this year.
“I love that we’re bringing Gilroy to the forefront of the Bay Area,” Krulee said. “We’re not just this little town south of San Francisco anymore. We are part of the Bay Area. We are what the Bay Area looks for as a premier food festival, as something they look forward to every summer.”
Though the number attendees was only a fraction of what will be expected in July, Harrigan said it provided the volunteers with a taste of the pressure they will face.
“This is actually a good test run (for the calamari),” Harrigan said. “Even with all the fryers going, we’re actually providing a pretty good service right now. It’s a good test run for us for the festival. I think they’re a little behind, but I think they’re going to get better.”
Pirozzoli, who sported a gold garlic necklace, said she was excited by the train returning to this year’s festival. Her family made the trek to San Francisco via train and she believes its return will open the door for more people to experience what Gilroy has to offer.
“It’s a great way to kick off the festival, see familiar faces and get us going and headed in the right direction,” she said. “This really brings the South Bay to the North Bay.”
Gilroy Garlic Festival invades AT&T Park