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Inaugural California Garlic Festival kicks off this weekend in Stockton

Organizers announced the event in May after the iconic Gilroy Garlic Festival Association surprisingly canceled their annual event.

STOCKTON, Calif. — When you think of garlic, you probably think Gilroy.

But this weekend, it will be all garlic at the inaugural California Garlic Festival at the San Joaquin County Fairgrounds in Stockton.

"It's been exciting. We've had a tremendous response from the public that wants to be a part of this event whether they're vendors or whether they want to be on the community stage or whether they want to be volunteers," said spokesman Alan Sanchez.

In April, the Gilroy Garlic Festival Association announced "lingering uncertainties from the pandemic, along with prohibitive insurance requirements by the City of Gilroy" meant it would not "move ahead" with its traditional festival.

When the Noceti Group, which also hosts the San Joaquin Asparagus Festival, jumped in, the Gilroy board said "Stockton is not the successor of our community's homecoming event."

"We're not trying to take anything from anyone else because we're not in competition because they're not going on. We're making sure that we have a platform for those vendors that would have been sitting home and not having that income for their families. Now they have a venue right here," said Sanchez.

One of those vendors is Peachy Donato who is selling four, classic Filipino food items.

She began her business in April.

"We're going to be doing adobo lumpia topped with garlic aioli and infused with a lot of garlic of course," said Donato.

In fact, there will be about 50 garlic flavored food items, including some you might not expect.

"We also have maple, brown sugar ice cream. Don't knock it until you try it. It's actually pretty good," said garlic food chef Julie Linesburgh, who has been associated with the Stockton Asparagus Festival for 30 years.

The festival will also feature a Show and Shine Car Display with hot rods, muscle cars and low-riders.

There will also be cooking demonstrations, fruit and vegetable stands, a petting zoo, carnival rides and monster truck rides.

The festival also features the Miss California Garlic Festival Scholarship Pageant & Princess Program.

Festival hours are 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday.

Admission is $15.00 for adults and $10 for kids 6-17. 

Seniors 65 and older, military with ID and children under 5 are free.

Like the Salinas Valley, San Joaquin County is also a big garlic producing area.

The county produced 2,890 acres of garlic in 2020 for a cash crop value of $8,891,000.

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