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Tom Cline’s one-year stint as president of the Gilroy Garlic Festival began in November of 2019.
When the pandemic led to the first-ever cancellation of the event in July 2020, Cline earned a “do-over.”
“It’s been interesting, to say the least,” said the longtime Gilroy resident who has led the festival through turbulent times towards 2021. “I’m honored to have maintained my spot, and the continuity of the festival.”
“Everyone has a real desire to see the festival return, and that’s where our focus lies.”
Cline has served as a festival volunteer for the past eight years. Four with Refuse, and four on the Board.
“What always amazed me was how this group of people would come together and create this grand event. You plan it for 7 months and, boom, come July it happens. Then, within 10 days it’s gone. It took real teamwork to pull that off.”
Born in San Jose, Cline was raised in Morgan Hill but moved to Gilroy 32 years ago to raise his two children with his wife Cindy. He has owned Cline Glass Contractors since 2011.
Greg Bozzo was 12 when a handful of volunteers organized the very first Gilroy Garlic Festival on a searing hot day in August of 1979. Bozzo remembers sweating inside a booth as his parents Sam and Judy Bozzo tried to sell hot minestrone to 15,000 guests.
Somehow, despite it all, Bozzo was hooked, becoming an integral part of every festival since. The former Gilroy Garlic Festival Association president (2010), Gourmet Alley chair (2004), and current board member continues to be in awe of the festival’s power to bring people together.
“For us, it’s our community center, the place where everyone gathers,” said Bozzo, 53. “The festival has that ability to bring us together outside of our regular daily lives.”A member of the festival’s Strategic Planning Group, Bozzo helps serve in an advisory role, providing historical perspective and planning for the future.“I like people, being in the position to make decisions, to help raise money for nonprofits, and solving problems that benefit the community,” he said.
Bozzo sees the festival returning to its grassroots, community involvement achieving financial sustainability, and ensuring cooperation among nonprofits, the business sector, and the city.
Away from his festival duties, Bozzo owns and operates GB Landscape Services in Gilroy. He enjoys traveling, writing, mountain biking, and snowboarding. He and his wife Lora have two daughters, Gianna and Olivia.
Cindy is on her second stint with the Board of Directors, but she’s been a volunteer since 1986 when she worked with the Gilroy Elks in Gourmet Alley in the pepper steak booth.
And over the years of her involvement in the festival, she’s held many chairs and co-chair positions, including co-chair and chair of the Queen Pageant from 2006-2009; part of the Advisory Team from 2010-2011; co-chair of Entertainment from 2012-2013; chair of the Advisory Committee for a year and team member for two years; four years as chair of the Entertainment Committee from 2014-2015; another stint on the Advisory Committee as co-chair in 2016 and chair in 2017, the first time she was voted onto the board; and a year in 2019 working with sponsors on Garlic Avenue.
Her two grown daughters, Brittney and Ashley, back when they were cheerleaders at Gilroy High and she helped out the cheerleading booster club, volunteered for the festival, and still do as adults. Both are in the health care field, as is Cindy, in the dental field.
“My whole family has always been involved in the festival,” she says. “We work with the festival as a family and it has always been a huge part of us giving back to our community.”
Cindy was born and raised in Gilroy, attended Gilroy High School and Gavilan College. Her husband of 37 years, Tim, is also a Gilroy native and supports and helps her work with the festival.
“The festival is a coming together as a community, that’s the draw,” she says. “Every year it’s a party and we host it. There’s a feeling of joy and everyone comes together.”
As for this year’s festival, Cindy is excited about the new format and location.
“I’m looking forward to it. I’m looking forward to it being smaller and getting back to what it used to be,” she says about the early days of the festival. “I think we needed a change, a refocusing and making it smaller and more accomodating. It’s still all about food and fun.”
Shawn Keck is on his second round as a member of the Garlic Festival Association Board of Directors. He first served a one-year term in 2010, then was voted on again in 2017, elected as Vice President in 2018, President in 2019, then as Past President in 2020 when the pandemic hit and put everything on hold.
So for 2021, he’ll serve another year on the Board of Directors and then transition to the Strategic Planning Group, which is composed of all the Past Presidents. He’s also served as co-chair and chair on various committees, but he recalls his first connection with the festival as a young man.
“I’ve been involved with the festival since I was a freshman on the Gilroy High wrestling team, working on the ‘trash tractors,’ as a parking volunteer, selling tickets and volunteering on the Entertainment Committee,” says Shawn, who arrived in Gilroy from the East Coast when he was in the sixth grade. “I loved it. I was the first one in and the last one out. We just had a great time and everyone was there for the same reason…to throw a party for Gilroy. It was something I thoroughly enjoyed and got me hooked on the Garlic Festival.”
Shawn served as co-chair and then chair of the Entertainment Committee from 2002-2005; co-chair and chair of the Utilities Committee from 2006 to 2008; joined the board for his first stint; then served four years on the Sign Committee.
After graduating from Gilroy High, Shawn attended Gavilan College, then UC Santa Cruz, where he got a bachelor’s degree in Technical Theater. His career since then has revolved around event planning, stage management, and production management. He is still currently in the event production industry with his Sacramento-based firm Intuitive Visual Communications.
He lives in Santa Cruz enjoys wakeboarding and water sports. When not on the water or traveling for events, he can be found in the Santa Cruz Mountains on the mountain bike trails and around town on his Onewheel electric skateboard.
Shawn says he’s looking forward to the revamped festival this year and beyond.
“We’re excited for new opportunities and how we can move forward,” he says. “It’s exciting to see how we can stay successful for the nonprofits and charities, continue our mission, and retool for the next 40 years of the Garlic Festival.”
Janet Krulee may be one of the newest members of the Garlic Festival Board of Directors, but her roots run deep. In fact, she’s the fourth generation of her family working with the festival. Her two children, Caitlyn and Kevin, who also volunteer every summer are the fifth generation to continue the tradition. Community and the town of Gilroy are very near and dear to her heart.
“I’ve been volunteering at the Festival since I was a young child, my mother worked at Christopher Ranch so it was a given, then all through middle and high school, and here I am now,” says Janet. “It’s a family tradition. Once you’re involved, it’s in your blood.” Her whole extended family volunteers at the festival, a point she is very proud of.
Prior to joining the board, Janet served as co-chair and chair of the Information, Retail, and Advisory Committees, on which she is currently the chair.
After graduating from Gilroy High School, she attended Gavilan College and then San Jose State where she completed her graduate studies in Social Science. She would love to pursue a psychology degree and counsel students on their educational paths in the future. Currently, she and her husband Jason own and operate their local construction company, Take It For Granite.
In her leisure time she says she likes to read, volunteer, enjoy the outdoors, and hang out with family and friends. She also was just given the honor of being named to the Gilroy and Morgan Hill 2021’s “People To Watch” list.
She said she’s looking forward to this year’s festival with a new location and revamped format necessitated by the coronavirus pandemic.
“I think we lost a little bit of the heart of the festival, so this going back to our beginnings with renewed community involvement and support is key,” she says. “The Festival’s main goal has always been to support our local communities and nonprofits. So, by re-imaging and rethinking it we can focus on smaller more well-rounded events and get back to our founding roots; which ultimately is giving back to the community and people in it. Nothing can grow without first having those strong roots, so I’m proud that we’re moving in that direction to bring back our beloved Festival.”
Trevor is serving his first term as Treasurer on the festival’s Board of Directors, but his connection with the festival goes back to 2008, a year after he and his young family moved to Gilroy from the Santa Cruz area.
He started working at Gourmet Alley in 2008, working various positions before becoming co-chair in 2016, then chair in 2018. It’s become a family affair with his wife Cynthia and his four children all volunteering in one way or another.
Originally from Ripon, California, Trevor attended Fresno State University on a vocal scholarship but got his bachelor’s degree in Recreation and Leisure Studies. He worked for more than a dozen years at the Mount Hermon Christian Camps in the Santa Cruz Mountains before moving to Gilroy with Cynthia in 2007. He later went on to earn his Master of Divinity from Western Seminary in 2010.
Trevor was the youth pastor at Gilroy Presbyterian Church from 2007 to 2012, worked for an accounting office, Santa Clara County Social Services, and as an Interim Pastor in San Jose from 2012-2017, then returned to become Senior Pastor at Gilroy Presbyterian in 2017, a position he now holds.
His children, three daughters, and a son, in fifth grade, seventh grade, high school freshman, and junior, are all swimmers for the Almaden Riptides, and all-volunteer for the festival.
“The festival is fun and a great way to connect to the community,” he says. “And as a volunteer, it doesn’t matter who you are, you could have a custodian working next to a CEO — we’re all part of the community.”
In addition to his work with the festival, Trevor is a member of the Rotary, is the Class Instructor for Leadership Gilroy, and serves on many other committees in the community, so while he doesn’t have a lot of leisure time, when he does happen to have a spare minute, he likes working with his hands fixing things, building or working on construction projects.
Bradley Royston remembers one powerful emotion following his first-ever Gilroy Garlic Festival in 2005 — pride.
Helping his church group serve what they called their “world-famous” garlic bread, Royston was drawn to the “dynamic environment of thousands of my neighbors volunteering a weekend to serve food to 80,000 people,” he said. “I still recall the pride I felt to be part of such an event and such a community.”
Now a board member for the Gilroy Garlic Festival Association, Royston sees the event as a mechanism to be involved in the community.
“The opportunity to work side by side with my kids’ teachers, the chef at my favorite restaurant, the coach of the swim team, local firefighters, and many others — to pull off something amazing — keeps me excited and coming back every year,” he said. Royston, 48, shares the volunteer experience alongside his wife and kids, “who have been hanging around the festival since they were born,” he said.
A volunteer fixture on Gourmet Alley, Royston loves being a part of the festival’s volunteer “engine” and is amazed at a remarkable unified love of community. Royston’s day job is as Vice President of Sales for Infineon Power & Sensor Systems. “Balance, reflection, and long-term thinking are very important to me ... never be distracted by the noise,” he said.
What started as a summer rite of passage — meeting with his friends and eating too much — became a personal mission for Jeff Speno.
From a 14-year-old on hand at the second Garlic Festival in 1980, Speno became a serial volunteer and eventually a Gilroy Garlic Festival Association board member.“I enjoyed hanging around with my friends, of course, but soon the real meaning of the festival became clear,” said Speno, who remembers being “amazed at how many people can work together to give back to others.”
By day, the Gilroy resident and father of two is president of Mission Valley Ford in San Jose. In his off-hours, he’s intricately involved in moving the festival forward.
“It’s a great time to reinvent ourselves,” he said. “I’d like to see the festival smaller, more intimate, and offering more to our guests.”
Speno would like every visitor to learn more about garlic, what it means around the world, understand how it fits into the city’s culture and history, and where the money goes in the tight-knit community. Speno’s wife Jennifer also is actively involved with the association. The former Gilroy Garlic Queen served as president in 2005. “We share this passion together, and that’s a great thing,” he said.
Mike Wanzong is serving his second stint on the Gilroy Garlic Festival Board of Directors. He served a two-year term on the board in 2012-2013. This time, as a president’s appointee, it’s a one-year term that expires in October 2021.
Mike’s commitment to the festival started, as many volunteers over the years can attest, when he was a student at Gilroy High. And like most volunteers his age, he did the usual starting-out tasks, selling sodas and taking care of the trash.
But he soon found himself the assistant chairman of the Utilities Committee in 2009, then chairman, from 2010-2011. He also served as chair of Gourmet Alley from 2014 to 2017.
Born in Salinas, his family moved to Wisconsin for a time, then moved to Gilroy when he was in sixth grade, ironically, in 1979, the first year of the festival. He attended his first festival in 1980 and started volunteering when he was in high school and has been ever since.
Mike not only attended as a student but worked at Gavilan College as a contractor in the IT Department. He went on to get an AA degree in math and computer science and is currently a delivery director for a company that writes software for insurance companies, which he has been doing for two dozen years.
Married to Jennifer, who ran the children’s area a few years ago, as well as running the Gourmet Alley Demonstration Stage, Mike likes to hike with his dog, follow SpaceX and other space ventures, plays a geo-location-based game called Munzee, and, if he can get his tools set up again, do some woodworking.
As a board member in the first year of a reimagined and relocated festival, Mike is excited about the new challenges — and opportunities — the festival presents.
“It’s nerve-wracking and challenging, but to me, there’s a silver lining in the whole concept of going back to our roots, which is very cool,” he says. “Having to be more creative, getting back to being smaller and intimate, that’s part of the fun. We’ll figure it out and make the best of it.”