The 34th annual is just over a week away and Gilroy Patch can't wait to savor the flavor creations featuring everyone's favorite allium sativum, a.k.a garlic, plus experience the music and entertainment set to be served up this year.
Over the upcoming days, we'll be previewing events, food and must-knows about the event, going down July 27 through 29 at .
During the course of the three day Garlic Festival, over 4,000 volunteers work the event, ostensibly for free. However, thanks to the festival's unique "volunteer equity program," volunteers can donate what would be their earnings from an hourly wage to a non-profit organization of their choice.
This exchange is particularly fruitful for education organizations, said Hugh Davis, president of the festival. During the event's 33-year tenure, $4,000,000 of the over $9,000,000 raised during the festival have gone back to education entities.
, these dollars take on even more importance, Davis said.
"With all the cutbacks from the state to our school systems, the contributions we're making are even more significant," he said. "We're trying to be a steady force that continues to give."
Last year, the festival awarded over $100,000 to education organizations for activities like after-school programs, music and athletics. Davis said groups received over $52,000, groups over $25,000 and school groups over $8,000.
This year, 71 education-related organizations will be working the event. At an hourly wage of around $7, these groups could leave with some pretty pennies.
"Some school groups walk away with between $10,000-$15,000," Davis said. "Many of these groups get their yearly budget thanks to the festival."
Nearly all the education organizations represented at the festival are within a 50-mile radius of Gilroy, Davis said, with the majority located in town.