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Battle brewing over control of the Gilroy Garlic Festival

Battle brewing over who will take control of the Gilroy Garlic Festival 02:16

GILROY (KPIX) -- After organizers recently announced plans to cancel the annual Gilroy Garlic Festival, a prominent Central Valley grower stepped up to say he's reviving the festival - but in Stockton.

"It feels like it's going to be a stolen event," said Delia Perez, a Gilroy local who's volunteered and attended the Garlic Festival for years.

She was disappointed when organizers announced future festivals would be cancelled and upset at the prospect that Stockton would take it over.

"We donate our time to this event that's been in our city for so long. To find out it's going to a new city, it's a little disturbing," Perez said.

It all began when San Joaquin County grower, racetrack owner and Asparagus Festival organizer Tony Noceti announced on social media that he would bring back the Garlic Festival after Gilroy's cancellation. But it would be in Stockton.

"I'm looking at keeping the legacy of a Garlic Festival healthy and ongoing," Noceti said.

But Gilroy garlic grower Ken Christopher, whose grandfather was one of the founders of the Garlic Festival said Noceti's plan feels like an unfriendly takeover.

"They haven't reached out to anyone at the Gilroy Garlic Festival Association, the city, or my company. It's a little irresponsible of them to use our legacy to promote themselves," Christopher said.

Gilroy organizers say the festival was cancelled because of rising costs, a loss of parking because of increased housing construction and insurance and security costs after the 2019 mass shooting.

Noceti says he stepped up only because Gilroy walked away from it.

"I don't mean to be rude to them folks, but their group made the announcement that there wasn't going to be a festival anymore. I'm not trying to steal their festival. I'm just trying to keep it going for the non-profits, for agriculture and the people," Noceti said.

"You can't take the Garlic Festival away from Gilroy. To try and do that is just unacceptable," Christopher said.

Noceti did revive the Asparagus Festival which is happening this weekend at the San Joaquin County Fairgrounds and says he'll have an announcement on the Garlic festival time and place later this week.

"No, we don't back down," Noceti said. 

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