After more than four decades, one of the country’s most famous food festivals is shutting down for “the foreseeable future,” organizers said.
The Gilroy Garlic Festival is a massive, three-day event in the northern California city of Gilroy that celebrates the “stinking rose” and raises money for local charities. Organizers said the event is no longer feasible because of increased insurance costs and “lingering uncertainties” from COVID-19.
Gilroy officials were also putting “prohibitive insurance requirements” on the festival, Garlic Festival Association Past President Tom Cline and Vice President-Elect Cindy Fellows said in a statement first reported by the Gilroy Dispatch.
“Obviously, we are left frustrated and disappointed,” the statement read. “Our world-renowned festival has helped showcase Gilroy and the South County for 42 years while raising many millions of dollars for local charities.”
“The festival is part of our heritage,” the statement from Cline and Fellows reads. “Now we must ensure that it is part of our future. While it will never be the massive event of the past, a more intimate, local festival can still allow us to celebrate the community, garlic and all it inspires.”
The event, which began in 1979 and holds a Guinness World Record for the largest attendance at a garlic festival, was plagued by a mass shooting in 2019 that left three people dead and 17 others hurt. It was canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic. In 2021, organizers attempted to recreate the festival as a “drive-thru” event, according to SF Gate.
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