Photo: The garlic. mushroom and onion bread bowl will be a featured item at the California Garlic Festival. (COURTESY OF NOCETI GROUP INC.)

Stockton’s history of food-inspired food festivals is about to get a new flavor.

The California Garlic Festival is coming to Stockton this Saturday and Sunday at the San Joaquin County fairgrounds from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. both days. Tony Noceti, the CEO of The Noceti Group who also promotes the San Joaquin Asparagus Festival, decided to restore the Garlic festival after it was canceled indefinitely in Gilroy back in April after 40 years (1979-2019).

He feels Stockton’s rich history in agriculture makes it the perfect host for a festival devoted to garlic-inspired dishes.

“We’re already in the festival business doing the Asparagus festival so we decided to pick it up and bring it to Stockton for the farmers, for the people, and the non-profit groups,” said Noceti. 

Noceti also shared that food will be taking center stage at this festival with garlic at the core.

“It’s more food than anything else. There are over 50 different dishes of garlic stuff being cooked out here at our festival garlic dogs pasta I mean it goes on and on there’s so much you can do with it,” said Noceti.

The fairgrounds according to Noceti is a bigger facility than its former host grounds, Christmas Hill Park in Gilroy,  and the fairgrounds will also allow more parking than the festival previously had at its location before the move to Stockton.

The Noceti Group has built a reputation for reviving events and facilities. The group reopened Stockton 99 Speedway in 2009 after it was sold and closed at the end of the 2006 season. A sagging real estate market caused the track to revert to the former owners and Noceti invested $1 million to bring it back. The Stockton Asparagus Festival closed in 2014, but was revived as the San Joaquin Asparagus Festival the next year.

Map of the layout for the California Garlic Festival at the San Joaquin County. (COURTESY OF THE NOCESTI GROUP, INC.)

Gilroy Garlic Festival fans will be pleased to find out that the gourmet alley is back with a new name. The “Cali Garlic Alley” will be a retro feature from the previous festival in Gilroy.

The Cali Garlic alley will host many vendors with chefs cooking garlic-centered dishes and it will be near Building No. 2, according to Noceti. 

Some of the food items that will be featured at the festival include garlic fries, garlic pasta and desserts with garlic such as maple brown sugar garlic ice cream.

According to Noceti,there are 140 vendors confirmed to be at the festival, meaning there will be a lot to explore, smell and eat at the fairgrounds this weekend.

The festival will also feature a great deal of entertainment from car show displays, cooking demonstrations, carnival rides, local performers and more.

Admission inside the festival is $15 for adults ages 18-64, $10 for children ages 6 -17, seniors 65-over and military with identification. Children under 5 are free to enter.Tickets can be purchased online through Eventbrite.

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