Why the Gilroy Garlic Festival? It seemed so simple at the time. About 6 years ago, I started frequenting the Monterey region thanks to Blake- who had attended CSUMB and whose family loves the area. Around the same time, my very close friend Teresa landed a job in Salinas as a school teacher. Looking for MORE excuses to go down there, I saw ads for the Gilroy Garlic Festival. What’s funny is my horrible mental-GPS for the area.
Me: “Teresa! Let’s go to the Garlic Festival! You live there right?”
Teresa: “Ummm, I kind of live nearby. That’s about half an hour away.”
(in later months)
Me: “Teresa! I’m in Watsonville right now. You live there, right?”
Teresa: “Ummmm…. no. I live in Salinas. Watsonville is like an hour away.”
(and even more recently)
Me: “Teresa! Do you live in Gonzales?”
Teresa: “No. Dannah. I don’t.”
Me: “Oh…well, I still want to see you! Let’s go to the Gilroy Garlic Festival!”
This went on for about 6 years. Borderline embarrassed for swearing each year that I would make it to the Festival and visit with her at the same time. Equally embarrassing is that, in retrospect, Teresa never really seemed interested in the Garlic Festival anyway. But alas, it is #28 on my list.
A Garlic Festival in Central California at the end of July is as good an idea as making a trip to Hell. Going there when you are SUPER pregnant is like permanently moving to Hell.
Why? Why does ANYONE go to a Festival? One with no shade? One where morbidly obese people are stuffing themselves with stinking garlic? I’ll tell you something…. that bus ride back to the parking lot was not fun for anyone.
Yes, bus ride. First, I should say that my friend Teresa was unavailable this weekend to go. I suppose this is one thing to consider when items on your list include a specific time frame with a specific person. But, this event is still one I wanted to attend, cause…. I like Garlic. And seeing the news reports made Blake anxious to go as well.
Back to the bus ride. Well, we can back up a little bit further and I’d like to say that this Festival was truly different from most ‘themed’ festivals I’ve been to in recent years because they really did have Garlic… cooking demonstrations, free samples, a Garlic Alley with lots of garlicky crap to stuff yourself with… garlic souvenir booths. Compare this to something like, say, the Pumpkin Festival in Half Moon Bay where… outside the record-setting pumpkins on display, there is nothing else pumpkin about it.
So, THOUSANDS of people flock to Gilroy for this event and there was no way anyone could get parking up close, which really was fine because they had a line of charter busses at the parking lot to take you to the entrance, so there was no wait time for us to get in.
HOWEVER- Blake, in all his brilliance, thought we should capitalize on my pregnant belly by jumping in to the Handicap Bus line for the ride back to the car. This turned out to be a mistake because, in the time we spent with ‘handicapped’ people also in line, it turned out to be nothing more than morbidly obese people short of breath, sweaty, and who reeked of garlic all climbing into a little bus where there was no air conditioning. The bus driver even had to request that people shift their weight equally on either side of the bus so that we didn’t tip or something. It was truly horrific.
I told Blake I would never attend another festival again in my life for the sole purpose of the theme at hand, and I certainly would not pay to get in or take time out of my summer to do this. If I happen to stumble upon a Free Festival while out and about and it’s a cool misty day, then perhaps I’d consider it.