By Len Ramirez

GILROY (KPIX) — A good-natured battle is brewing between Gilroy and Fresno over which California city deserves the title “Garlic Capital.”

Gilroy has claimed the title for 40 years, but now Fresno is staking a claim. The San Joaquin Valley city is also launching its own Garlic Festival on May 28th.

“Whether you like it or not, Fresno is the Garlic Capital of the United States,” said Peter DeYoung, a marketing professional who represents Fresno growers. “This is something that belongs to us and our growers.”

Gilroy has long called itself the garlic capital of the world. It’s 3-day Garlic Festival each August – rated as one of the top food festivals in the world – celebrates its 40th anniversary this year. It all helped cement the image in many people’s minds.

“When I think of garlic, I think of Gilroy,” said Anita Teran, who visited the Gilroy Garlic Shoppe from Las Vegas.

Almost all California garlic is processed in Gilroy, and Gilroy-based Christopher Ranch is the top U.S. producer. But over the decades, the acres of garlic grown in Gilroy has dwindled.

By far, most California garlic is now grown in Fresno County. And Fresno growers are now claiming the title, Garlic Capital of United States.

“It’s all about marketing, and I applaud that,” DeYoung said. “It’s what’s built Gilroy, but you gotta give credit where credit is due.”

But Gilroy isn’t giving in.

“They’re going to have a lot of competition from us. I don’t think they’re going to steal anything from us,” said Joanne Fierro, a cashier at the Garlic Shoppe.

Gilroy has been battling China in the garlic wars for decades. But now faces competition from one of its neighbors.

Now, it’s new competition from Fresno.

The question is, is there room in the garlic world for two title holders?

“There’s no threat,” said Alex Larson of Gilroy. “It’s just adding on and making something more abundant and more beautiful.”

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