The county urges youth and young adults to get vaccinated as soon as possible

Photo by Scott Jackson Photography
In past Gilroy Garlic Festivals, the “pyro chefs” in Gourmet Alley put on a spectacular flame-up show while preparing garlic-laced calamari in huge iron skillets.


This editorial is the opinion of Morgan Hill Life

The South Valley community is strong . . . and that fact is proved with how it found a creative way to bring back the world-famous Garlic Festival this summer.

The event has annually been held at Christmas Hill Park. It raises hundreds of thousands of dollars every year to support South Valley schools and nonprofit organizations through the volunteer hours given by  men, women and children working in Gourmet Alley and other locations during the three-day event. Unfortunately, because of the COVID-19 crisis the 2020 festival was cancelled for the health and safety of guests and volunteers.

This year’s festival will most likely happen, but it will be greatly modified from what we have previously experienced. Let’s see that as a sign of the healing happening for the South Valley after the tragedy of a mass shooting at the festival in 2019 as well as the pain of dealing with the pandemic.

The Gilroy Garlic Festival Association announced the 2021 event at the end of April.  Guests will enjoy a variety of events including a series of drive-thru events where people can safely purchase delicious food from Gourmet Alley. Also planned is a farm-to-table dinner and a golf tournament.

The 2021 Gilroy Garlic Festival seeks to be more than a one signature event. Its organizers will continue to work to connect the community with various smaller events, educational activities, and giving opportunities throughout the year.

“We have all been confronted with so many changes due to COVID-19,” said Tom Cline, president of the association, in a press release. “There is a great community desire to see the festival come back. Together, we can work to re-imagine a Gilroy Garlic Festival that will promote and honor everything that makes Gilroy truly the Garlic Capital of the World.”

Here are the details of the revised festival the organizers hope to set up this summer. Guests can enjoy their  favorite cuisine at a re-imagined Gourmet Alley where they can pick up their to-go meals from the safety of their vehicles through a drive-thru. This will be held on the weekends of July 23, 24 and 25, and July 30, 31, and Aug. 1, at Gilroy Presbyterian Church, located at 6000 Miller Ave. near Gavilan College’s campus. The menu and drive-thru times will be announced soon..

The festival is working with the Santa Clara County Health Department to get approval for the Gourmet Alley Drive-Thru. The health department is still not reviewing and/or approving permits for temporary events. It is hoped that by July, the health department will allow the festival to offer this activity to the public.

The festival also hopes to hold a farm-to-table dinner at Fortino’s Winery, located on Hecker Pass, the evening of Saturday, July 24. Guests can enjoy the freshness of produce from local fields, orchards, and artisanal foods directly to their table, as well as local wines. The chef and menu details will be revealed shortly.

The third event is for local golfers who want to support the festival’s fundraising while enjoying a day on the green. Garlic Festival Golf Classic, which will be held Friday, July 30, at Gilroy Golf Course on Hecker Pass Road. Details will be announced later this month.

Before we get too excited about the revised version of the Gilroy Garlic Festival this summer, let’s keep in mind how unpredictable the world can be during a pandemic. California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced in April that the state is planning to reopen by June 15. We have learned during the past 13 months that with COVID-19 things can change things very quickly and unexpectedly.

That’s why we encourage South Valley residents to get their vaccine shots to help bring back events such as the Gilroy Garlic Festival. More than two-thirds of Santa Clara County residents over the age of 16 have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine. The public health department has seen a recent reduction in demand for vaccination and officials urge residents to continue getting vaccinated. This will help prevent the spread of dangerous variants so we can emerge from the pandemic.

In particular, the county urges youth and young adults to get vaccinated as soon as possible. Young adults ages 18-29 make up the highest number of unvaccinated individuals in the county, and although case rates are flattening or decreasing, young adults ages 18-34 have the highest rate of COVID infection of any age group.

Let’s be grateful we’ve come so far in combating the coronavirus. But let’s also remember we aren’t in the clear yet. Let’s all get our shots and save lives, protect our community from variants, and help us get out of this pandemic.

Morgan Hill Life Editorial
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