The organizers of two vegetable-centric Northern California festivals have gotten caught up in a bit of a social media beef. It all started not long ago with Bay Area residents waving goodbye to the Gilroy Garlic Festival after organizers announced plans to cancel the popular annual event “indefinitely” in mid-April. Then on Sunday the Noceti Group, organizers of the San Joaquin Asparagus Festival, announced intentions to try and revive one of Northern California’s stinkiest celebrations via Facebook post.
On Monday, however, Ken Christopher, Executive Vice President of the Christopher Ranch, the nation’s largest garlic company, reached out to Eater SF to say no one on the board of the Gilroy Garlic Festival Association had knowledge of the Noceti Group or its plans. “Our community has been through enough and doesn’t need misinformation from those that aren’t affiliated with our annual homecoming,” Christopher wrote in a text. “If the Noceti Group is earnestly trying to have a garlic promotion in their hometown, god bless them. But claiming to bring back the Gilroy Garlic Festival, without comment or cooperation from our association, is malicious.”
The Sacramento Bee first noticed a post on the San Joaquin Asparagus Festival Facebook letting fans know the event group will host the garlic festival themselves. “We heard the extremely sad news that the Gilroy Garlic Festival will not be holding their annual big Garlic festival. We just couldn’t let that happen!” the San Joaquin Asparagus Festival Facebook post from Sunday read before being taken down on Monday morning. “The Noceti Group is thrilled to announce we will be hosting the Garlic Festival this year. More details to come soon!”
But Christopher, who’s also the grandson of Gilroy Garlic Festival founder Don Christopher, says no one on the board of the Gilroy Garlic Festival Association has heard of or affiliates with the Noceti Group. “It looks like the group, at best, is ignorantly trying to use a news cycle to promote a future Stockton based garlic event and, at worst, is using the national press surrounding my grandfather’s legacy to self-promote,” he said.
In subsequent post on Monday, the Noceti Group clarified the reason for Sunday’s garlic-related announcement: “When the historic Stockton Asparagus Festival announced it’s [sic] closing, our family saw an opportunity to keep this important community event alive and the San Joaquin Asparagus Festival was the end result. Our announcement about the closing of the Gilroy Garlic Festival closing was a similar disheartening announcement,” the post reads. Eater SF reached out for comment and did not receive any additional information.
Regardless of potential produce-related saviors, the smaller events the original festival organizers have put together in lieu of the big production, such as the golf tournament scheduled to happen on June 24, are still set to run.
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Update: May 2nd, 2022, 10:45 a.m.: This story has been updated to include statements from a Gilroy Garlic Festival organizer and information from a Facebook post from the San Joaquin Asparagus Festival.