The Gilroy Garlic Festival is one of the largest food festivals in the United States, held annually in Gilroy, California on the last full weekend in July at Christmas Hill Park. The 38th Garlic Festival was held on July 29-31, 2016.
The 31st festival ran from July 24 to July 26, 2009. 108,526 people attended, sampling such diverse creations as garlic flavored ice cream and garlic french fries. Attendees enjoy three stages full of musical entertainment, a Great Garlic Cook-off, celebrity cooking demonstrations, a garlic braiding workshop, a children's area, arts and crafts, and many interactive displays.
A Miss Gilroy Garlic Festival Queen is crowned yearly, chosen by a panel of five judges, based on her interview, talent, garlic speech and evening gown. Her court is chosen to represent Gilroy at festivities and "having a garlicy good time with fellow lovers of the pungent bulb." The 2012 Gilroy Garlic Festival Queen was Julia Brewka.
Over 4,000 volunteers from more than 150 non-profit groups make the festival possible, and over three million people have reportedly come to the festival since it began.
The festival was founded in 1979 by Dr. Rudy Melone, Don Christopher, and Val Filice, and has been a fundraiser for local charities, raising a total of about nine million dollars for assorted causes. Individual groups and charities also run booths at the festival, raising additional funds for their causes. The Gilroy Garlic Festival Association is a non-profit organization that is intended to support non-profit groups and projects in Gilroy.