Gilroy Garlic Festival exec. director gives first interview since July’s mass shooting

Posted at 10:20 PM, Sep 18, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-18 22:20:41-04

GILROY, CA (KSBW) — For the first time since 17 people were injured and four people were killed at the Gilroy Garlic Festival, the executive director of of the festival spoke on camera.

Since the July 28 shooting, the rallying cry for the victims and the community has been “Gilroy Strong,” and as the community has come together, many have worried about the fate of the festival.

Executive Director Brian Bowe spoke exclusively with KSBW about what’s next and whether the festival would return next summer.

For 41 years, the Gilroy Garlic Festival has created millions of memorable moments for generations. Generating memories and images of flameups and fun. This year, a shooting spree that lasted less than a minute marred some of those memories, but not their spirit.

“There’s still a process of healing and grieving and that’s going to go on a long time, and it’s different for everyone. But the outpouring of support and feedback from people who want to be here next year, want us to be here next year is undeniable and we want to honor that,” said Bowe.

If anyone talks to people in Gilroy, that feeling seems universal. Because united, you can’t keep the community down and so festival organizers are confident that volunteers and the crowds will return.

“There’s a couple things I’ve seen even since this year’s festival. We’ve had a rodeo, we’ve had a downtown fun run, a car show, and we have already seen the community show up. Bigger attendance, more support, more community pride in those events and I think that that momentum will carry us forward into next year’s festival, I’m sure of that,” said Bowe.

How it will take shape will be determined in the next few months. Honoring the victims of the shooting and also the countless volunteers that have, for more than 40 years, celebrated their family with the world.

“You can’t take away family. we are a family. We are Gilroy, we’re here. We love our festival and we will continue to love our festival and the leadership here will continue to take care of it and make sure that it’s what everybody needs it to be and I think that’s important to make sure that that happens,” said Bowe.

Bowe said that the victims of the shooting will play a significant role in next year’s event. Just how that will be woven into the event is one of the key items on the agenda.

The board is set to meet and begin planning at the beginning of November.