DESPITE TRIPLE-DIGIT weather, people still flocked to the San Joaquin County Fairgrounds in Stockton on Sunday to attend the second annual California Garlic Festival.
The two-day festival that began Saturday is a family friendly event celebrating everything garlic, in addition to entertainment and showcasing the valley’s agriculture.
With temperatures reaching 102 by noon, many people entered the fairgrounds and headed for the “Cali Garlic Alley” where there was not only shade, but multiple foods including garlic.
On the menu for customers were garlic fries with cheese and bacon on top, garlic pesto pasta, garlic mushrooms, onion bread bowls and for dessert a maple brown sugar garlic ice cream.
Alexis Farmen and Sam Bush, who drove to the festival from San Francisco, said it was their first time there and it was all about their love of garlic.
“It was, like, very odd and the first bit I took I think my brain had to catch up a little bit and kind of process what I was eating,” said Bush, about the garlic ice cream. “But we both agreed that the more bites we took the more and more we liked it.”
Farmen said she wished the fries would have had a much stronger taste of garlic.
Pageantry, performances… and shade
Outside the alley near some trees providing shade, people sat in bleachers and chairs in front of the community event stage where the Miss California Garlic Festival Scholarship Pageant & Princess Program was held, along with other local performances.
Many people walked around the festival holding lemonades and beers to quench their thirst while looking at the “Show and Shine” car display, featuring hot rods, muscle cars, and low-rider vehicles, as well as many vendors’ stands.
Fifteen-year-old Mayla Marquez and her mother Michelle had their own stand, where they sold permanent and removable waist beads with an assortment of colors and designs such as shells or glow in the dark butterflies.
The young girl said she started designing her beads a year ago after being diagnosed with stage four cancer.
“She fell in love with it,” Michelle Marquez said about her daughter making the jewelry. “It’s to make other people feel beautiful within themselves.”
Her mother said her daughter had finished chemotherapy but recently relapsed again, so she also makes the beads to pass time.
Prices ranged from $15 to $20 depending on colors and additional beads.
Mayla has been selling her products on Tik Tok, the mall in Stockton and at festivals held in the area.
Other stands sold different foods and drinks, offered face painting, clothing, charms for Crocs shoes and much more.
Eight-year-old Sacramento resident Aleena sat with her eyes closed while getting her face colored blue after enjoying a garlic ice cream cone.
Her parents said they thought pricing for the festival was worth it for everything offered.
Parking for the event was $10, admission was $15 for adults, $10 for children ages six to 17, and free for seniors 65 and older, anyone with a military ID and children under 5.
Interactive cooking demonstrations, monster truck rides, jumpers for kids, a photography exhibit, and a splash zone for kids to get wet were also part of the festival.
Victoria Franco is a reporter based in Stockton covering San Joaquin County for Bay City News Foundation and its nonprofit news site Local News Matters. She is a Report for America corps member.