‘This could be pretty big.’ California Garlic Festival moving to Merced County this summer

The California Garlic Festival is coming to Merced County this August.

The Merced County Spring Fairgrounds in Los Banos will host the California Garlic Festival Aug. 30 through Sept. 1.

The three-day event will feature live music, carnival rides, Monster Truck shows and all kinds of food filled with garlicky goodness from garlic popcorn, garlic fries and garlic ice cream.

The Garlic Festival was a longtime staple in Gilroy before the pandemic helped close it down in 2022 after 40 years. The California Garlic Festival emerged later that year at the San Joaquin County Fairgrounds.

Local leaders hope this will be the first of many years the festival will be held in Los Banos.

“This is the first annual Garlic Festival in Los Banos,” said Merced County District 5 Supervisor Scott Silveira. “Let’s hope there is a second, third and fourth annual festival... Potentially this could be pretty big for Los Banos.”

The fairgrounds is set to host the Annual Spring Fair next week from May 1 through May 5, which is a popular event every year for Los Banos residents.

People flock to the Merced County Spring Fairgrounds for the fair food, midway rides, carnival games and entertainment.

Silveira says the California Garlic Festival is an opportunity for Los Banos to host a secondary event in a few months.

“People can come to the event, it helps stimulate the economy,” Silveira said. “People can see all the things the festival has to offer. I’ve already heard some people are excited about one of the bands playing “The Moonshine Bandits.” They are a local band who hasn’t been able to play in Los Banos for a while. People are coming from out of state and booking hotel rooms.”

Los Banos Mayor Paul Llanez says he’s heard buzz around town when news got out the festival was coming to Los Banos.

“I received more texts on my phone about the Garlic Festival than I did about the homeless grant we received,” Llanez said.

Admission for the California Garlic Festival will be $15 for adults, $10 for children ages 6-17 years old, and free for those under 5 years old. The festival will run from noon to 10 p.m. each night.

Merced County Spring Fairgrounds is at 403 F St. in Los Banos.