Howdy folks, Ranger Roy here! It’s nice to see you back on the Gilroy Best Western PLUS Forest Park Inn blog. Well it’s been quite a few exciting weeks around here in our bustling’ town. The big Gilroy Garlic Festival 2012 was a huge success! This year, some of my fellow Best Western PLUS Forest Park Inn junior rangers and I got to go to the Festival for free! (Whoa doggies! How did we pull that one off you ask? Well that’s one of my secrets I’ll share at the end of this post for all you garlic lovers for next year). But first, let me tell you about some things you won’t want to miss out on.
First, there’s Gilroy Garlic Festival‘s Gourmet Alley. This is like the place you dream of where chopping, slicin’, dicin’ and food sizzlin’ on hot grills goes on for as far as the eye can see. While all of Gourmet Alley’s food looked so tempting I didn’t know where it would end–I knew where it would start.
My first meal was a free combo plate (more on that in a bit) piled high with a side of garlic fries, and of course a big slab of buttered garlic bread. And just for good measure, I added in a nice plate of stuffed garlic mushrooms. They have every garlicky food here you can imagine. Have you ever tasted garlic ice cream? Now there’s a mouthful of adventure! Speaking of food, I got to watch the best fire-spitting, sauce-slathering, grease-frying garlic cook-off as chefs from all over brought out their best secret recipes vying for first prize that Laureen Pittman took home this year.
After the cookoff I meandered around listening to some of the best free music this side of the Pacific. While I was toe-tapping my way down the isles I noticed how many happy people were lined up at the Olam booth so I checked it out. Well shut my mouth! I found out why they were all smiling. Free garlic everywhere! Plus, I learned more than I ever knew about growing garlic from Gilroy’s global garlic giant, Olam International.
Next on my adventure, I bought a Garlic Festival poster signed by Whitney Pintello, this year’s poster contest winner. I also snagged a gourmet bottle of Lucero Garlic Oil. That ought to keep me fixed up for a week or two! One final souvenir to complete my day was an Oak leaf. That may seem like a strange souvenir, but you see, back at ranger HQ, I have one of the finest leaf collections–well of just about anyone, anywhere. I always collect leaves when I go on adventures, and pretty near have a small forest by now.
One final thing before I sign off. I promised to share how I got into the Festival free and had a free meal (plus got two free drinks, and a souvenir tee shirt). I became a Gilroy Garlic Festival volunteer, that’s how. Easy as pie. Just a few hours of my time in trade for all that garlic goodness. If you want to know how you can get volunteer next year, contact the Gilroy Chamber of Commerce and they will fix you right up with all the details.
Well folks it’s about time to sign off. Be sure and come back next time when I’ll be sharing tips on visiting another of Gilroy’s best destinations: Gilroy Garden’s. Until next time, this is Ranger Roy at Gilroy’s Best Western PLUS Forest Park Inn wishing you safe travels and hoping there’s lots of garlic in your future.
Written by Laura Wrede, Gilroy freelance writer and photographer