Where is Gilroy and what is the Garlic Festival? Shooting shocks annual event in California

A celebration of all things garlic, from garlic ice cream to garlic cocktails, the Gilroy Garlic Festival — struck Sunday night by a mass shooting — has been part of Northern California for 40 years.

The event began in 1978 with a test luncheon event, but the first full-fledged Gilroy Garlic Festival in 1979 drew 15,000, according to the event’s website.

The event showcases the garlic-growing industry in Gilroy, a farming community 30 miles south of San Jose on Highway 101. The city of over 50,000 dates back to 1868, according to the city’s website.

Gilroy, in Santa Clara County about 30 miles southeast of San Jose, is known as the “Garlic Capital of the World.”

The three-day garlic festival, which began this year on Friday and ended Sunday, includes live music, crafts and, of course, plenty of food. Singer Colbie Caillat headlined the event Saturday.

In 2018, the festival attracted more than 80,000 people, The Gilroy Dispatch reported.

Gilroy map
Gilroy, the scene of Sunday’s shooting, is about 80 miles southeast of San Francisco. Google Maps Googe Maps

Related stories from Fresno Bee

Don Sweeney has been a newspaper reporter and editor in California for more than 25 years. He has been a real-time reporter based at The Sacramento Bee since 2016.