Gilroy Garlic Festival: What it is. What it does. How it helps local charities.

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The culinary festival attracts more than 100,000 visitors every year to the small city of Gilroy, which calls itself the “garlic capital of the world,” according to organizers.

READ: At least 3 dead in California garlic festival shooting
Established to celebrate garlicky foods and the tight-knit Gilroy community, the event has raised more than $11.7 million for local charities since 1979, organizers said. In 2018, organizers donated more than $255,000 to 170 different groups, including churches and school sports teams.
Gerry Foisy wears a hat adorned with garlic cloves at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in 2014.

This year — its 41st — the festival featured celebrity chefs Tom Colicchio of “Top Chef” and Gerron Hurt of “MasterChef,” as well as a headline performance from Colbie Caillat and her band, Gone West.

Esperanza Pineda, center left, and Jennifer Smith, center right, sell locally-grown garlic at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in 2004.
On the final day, however, three people were killed and at least 12 others injured when a gunman opened fire Sunday.

Garlic grower Christopher Ranch said the shooting had “shattered” the community stalwart.

“Today the unimaginable happened. Our community has worked for over 41 years to bring together our hometown of Gilroy. And in a series of selfish acts, the unspeakable has shattered what we’ve always known to be a safe and united cultural experience. We are still gathering information, but we want our hometown and the world to know that we will rise above this, that we will come together, and always champion the Gilroy community,” the company said on Facebook.

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