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Fresno County Garlic Fest Funding Cooks up Flavorful Debate



Two supervisors opposed $225,000 in taxpayer money going to a garlic festival in Fresno. (GV Wire Composite/Paul Marshall)
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Organizers of the National Garlic Festival and Food Expo in Fresno had a dire warning about the event’s future if it did not receive public funding.

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David Taub

Politics 101

“If we don’t get these funds, this thing goes away just plain and simple. We won’t have enough to get it done,” Fresno-based organizer Peter De Young told the Fresno County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.

Tuesday, the supervisors allocated the festival $225,000 from the county’s share of federal ARPA relief funds.

Nico De Young, another organizer, said it will cost $1.8 million to hold the festival, May 13-15 at the Fresno fairground. Despite Gilroy getting the glory as the self-proclaimed Garlic Capital of the World, 77% of all garlic grown in the U.S. is from Fresno County, according to state reports.

The for-profit festival will also seek funding from the city of Fresno. Peter De Young said they applied for the city’s share of ARPA funding at a similar amount they asked the county.

Also in Politics 101:

— Why Supervisor Brian Pacheco voted no.

How the festival promoter responded. 

— What will the festival’s economic impact be?

— Community celebrates Goldsmith with steak bites.

— Update on Hurtado DUI case.

— Clovis lacks lower-income housing.

Pacheco Votes No

Supervisor Brian Pacheco flat out refused to approve public money for the garlic festival.

“I stand in firm opposition to this. In my opinion, this should be a privately funded event,” Pacheco said.

He said ARPA funds need to go elsewhere.

“We have trouble getting $10,000 to have the kids in October have their teeth fixed. We can’t find money for the veterans we struggle with every year,” Pacheco said. “How do we not fund money to projects like that and say we’re going to give a quarter of a million dollars for a weekend party?”

Buddy Mendes supported the concept, but not for that amount. He and Pacheco were the only no votes. Steve Brandau, Nathan Magsig and Sal Quintero voted yes.

As one supervisor was overhead to say later, it is ironic that the two rural supervisors rejected the funding request.

“I like Garlic but I am not (Santa Claus emoji),” Mendes joked on Twitter about the vote, in response to a tweet from his nephew.

How rare is a 3-2 vote at the Board of Supervisors? The last 3-2 vote was November 2020 about a housing project.

De Young Responds

Peter De Young, whose family is known for its Central Valley homebuilding, says the supervisors have it wrong.

“I really think that it’s an issue of them not fully understanding what our application is all about. This is not money to throw a party by any means. It is seed money to fund a very multifaceted, ongoing public relations campaign really focused at helping to put a new face on Fresno County,” De Young told Politics 101.

This would be the second local garlic festival. De Young held a celebration of the stinking rose in 2019 at the River Park shopping center at a much smaller scale than the planned 2022 version. Festivals in 2020 and 2021 were cancelled because of the pandemic.

“It’s about letting the world know … that we are the garlic capital of the United States,” De Young said.

The Fresno event is independent of Gilroy’s annual festival.

De Young plans to offer free admission to health care and first responder workers throughout the state.

Economic Impact

Lisa Oliveira, president of the Fresno/Clovis Visitors Bureau, told the supervisors a study conducted on behalf of DeYoung showed that the festival would create $3 million in local spending and fill 10,000 hotel rooms.

Those figures helped convince Magsig to vote yes, he said from the dais.

In a report provided by the bureau in the meeting agenda, the bureau estimated $12.8 million in business sales, with a shade under $200,000 in local tax revenue. Hotel figures were 5,815 room-nights (with 10,000 out-of-town visitors).

Community Celebrates SCCCD Chancellor Goldsmith

New SCCCD Chancellor Carole Goldsmith speaks at a celebration of her promotion. (GV Wire/David Taub)

The community and elected leaders enjoyed a warm spring day to celebrate the promotion of Carole Goldsmith to the chancellor of the State Center Community College District.

Goldsmith, the former president of Fresno City College, was bumped up to oversee four community colleges in January.

Her message: Remember kindness as the world emerges from COVID.

“While our enrollment went down at every college, our success went up,” Goldsmith said. “I think it will come back because students will come back. Our success rates at every college exceeded every record there was. So it means our students persisted. It means our faculty hung in there and they crossed the finish line.”

The State Center Community College Foundation paid for the event. Guests at Artes America enjoyed steak bites from the Reedley College Tiger Café and other edible delights and potent potables.

Hurtado DUI Case Continued

Jewel Hurtado

Kingsburg Councilwoman Jewel Hurtado’s DUI case was continued again in Fresno County Superior Court at the request of her attorney.

Hurtado was arrested in Fresno last June, accused of driving above the legal blood alcohol level. On Tuesday, she was scheduled for a pre-trial hearing. She has a DMV hearing on May 12 and will return to court on May 24.

Clovis Council Discusses Housing

“RHeeNA” isn’t just a name for a daughter or dog, Clovis Mayor Jose Flores joked. It is the acronym for the state’s Regional Housing Needs Assessment.

The Clovis City Council heard an update at Monday’s meeting. While the housing stock is above projections overall for the last 10 years, affordable housing is below RHNA recommendations.

Flores said it is hard to find a builder for lower-income units. Such construction requires federal and state subsidies, which trigger higher construction prices by requiring union labor.

The city is battling a lawsuit from local housing advocates who accuse the city of failing to provide enough affordable housing.


Curiosity drives David Taub. The award-winning journalist might be shy, but feels mighty with a recorder in his hand. He doesn't see it his job to "hold public officials accountable," but does see it to provide readers (and voters) the information needed to make intelligent choices. Taub has been honored with several writing awards from the California News Publishers Association. He's just happy to have his stories read. Joining GV Wire in 2016, Taub covers politics, government and elections, mainly in the Fresno/Clovis area. He also writes columns about local eateries (Appetite for Fresno), pro wrestling (Off the Bottom Rope), and media (Media Man). Prior to joining the online news source, Taub worked as a radio producer for KMJ and PowerTalk 96.7 in Fresno. He also worked as an assignment editor for KCOY-TV in Santa Maria, California, and KSEE-TV in Fresno. He has also worked behind the scenes for several sports broadcasts, including the NCAA basketball tournament, and the Super Bowl. When not spending time with his family, Taub loves to officially score Fresno Grizzlies games. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, Taub is a die-hard Giants and 49ers fan. He graduated from the University of Michigan with dual degrees in communications and political science. Go Blue! You can contact David at 559-492-4037 or at Send an Email