Gilroy Garlic Festival announces sponsorship opportunities for 2024

Morgan Hill Life file photo Cooks create the popular “Flame-up” at a previous festival.

By Staff Report

The iconic Gilroy Garlic Festival returns this year with a series of smaller community events celebrating the city’s heritage. The Gilroy Garlic Festival Association has officially opened sponsorship opportunities to businesses and organizations for its 2024 lineup.

After being canceled the past few years due to COVID-19, the festival is taking a new approach by organizing intimate events that embody the spirit of Gilroy. The 2024 events available for sponsorship so far include:

  • Garlic Golf Classic: A fusion of sports and culinary experiences, offering a unique platform for sponsors.
  • Heart of Gilroy Festival: A family-centric event showcasing the vibrancy and warmth of the Gilroy community.
  • Music Event: An engaging musical showcase, featuring local and regional talent.
  • Cherry Orchard Dinner: An elegant, gourmet experience set in Gilroy’s scenic cherry orchards.

“We are excited to offer these sponsorship opportunities,” said Cindy Fellows, 2024 board president of the nonprofit Gilroy Garlic Festival Association. “Our 2024 events are designed to celebrate the spirit of Gilroy, and we look forward to partnering with businesses that share our passion for community and culture.”

Festival sponsors will not only gain brand exposure among various demographics, but also the chance to meaningfully engage with and support the Gilroy community. The association aims to create an excellent return through customized sponsorship packages tailored to help partners meet their specific marketing goals.

Businesses interested should contact Cindy Fellows at [email protected] for details.

Last year, the festival association presented a total of $65,000 in payouts to South Valley nonprofits. The 2023 donations exceeded the previous year’s contributions by $25,000, Fellows said.

The festival and its association got its start in 1978 when Dr. Rudy Melone, then the president of Gavilan Community College, read in a newspaper about a small town in France which annually hosted 80,000 people at its garlic soup festival. The town of Arleux even claimed the “Garlic Capital of the World” title. Melone sensed Gilroy needed a similar event to build up community pride in its garlic industry and also raise money for charities. He approached a few friends at the Gilroy Rotary Club who told him it was a “crazy idea.”

Melone approached garlic grower Don Christopher as well as his friend Val Filice to chat about putting on the Gilroy Garlic Festival. The trio decided to make it happen and in the summer of 1979 on farm land near Bloomfield Road, the first festival was launched. Organizers projected a first-year attendance of 5,000. They were shocked when 15,000 garlic lovers showed up. Soon after that first year’s overwhelming success, organizers realized there was a need to create the Gilroy Garlic Festival Association to put on the event every year.

At its height of international fame, the Gilroy Garlic Festival was regarded as “the preeminent food festival in America.”