Garlic fries were a popular treat at the California Garlic Festival at San Joaquin County Fairgrounds in Stockton on Saturday. (Harika Maddala/Bay City News/Catchlight Local)
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The smell of garlic filled the air over the weekend at the San Joaquin County Fairgrounds in Stockton.
The county’s first-ever California Garlic Festival debuted with a scholarship beauty pageant, carnival rides, monster trucks, pony rides, a car show, a photography contest and lots of garlic infused foods.
Items such as garlic fries, shaved garlic ice, garlic cupcakes and even garlic maple ice cream were on the menu for the two-day event.
Desiree McGuire, a festival attendee trying out the garlic ice cream, said she was nervous before trying out the ice cream because typically garlic is bitter.
“It’s actually not so bad … I’m glad that it has maple in it because it adds that sweetness,” McGuire said.
Fairgrounds officials said that the new Stockton-based festival is unrelated to the famed Gilroy Garlic Festival that started in the late 1970s and, after reemerging as a drive-through event in 2021, has been discontinued for the foreseeable future.
“People think we brought the Gilroy festival here, but it’s not so much that,” festival spokesman Alan Sanchez said. “We just know so many of the same vendors, so many of the same workers who are now out of a job, and we have the facility, we have the promotional team and said, ‘Let’s bring our own here to the San Joaquin area.’”
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While some children rode on brown ponies and devoured garlic fries in the Cali Garlic Alley at the festival, some girls and women competed in the California Garlic Festival Scholarship Pageant for their chance at a scholarship and the title of Miss California Garlic Festival 2022.
Sanchez said approximately 50 girls and women entered the competition, with the youngest contestant being 6 months old.
Following a series of outfit changes, strides across the stage and answering questions, 16-year-old Manteca resident Alyssa Dominguez and 16-year-old Brooklynn Cockerel of Ripon were crowned first runner-up and winner respectively.
Cockerel won the $750 scholarship, and Dominguez took home the $250 scholarship.
Dominquez said prior to entering the garlic festival pageant she had only competed one other time and was deemed Manteca’s Miss Pumpkin Fair.
“I want the money to go towards my college tuition fees, and I am planning to go to a four-year university somewhere in California,” Dominguez said.
Erika Irons, Stockton resident, said she enjoyed the festival with her children and thought the pricing for the fair was good for the number of attractions and activities there were.
“Parking was $10 and then we got our tickets online, so it was $15 for adults and then the price for my girls was good,” Irons said. “Everything in my opinion was affordable.”