The inaugural National Garlic Festival will be held at the fairgrounds May 13-15 featuring more than 300 garlic-inspired foods. Image via National Food Festivals.

published on March 22, 2022 - 1:52 PM
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Marketing for one of Fresno County’s newest events is now being brought to you by American Rescue Plan dollars.

On a three-to-two vote, the Fresno County Supervisors Tuesday earmarked $225,000 toward marketing for the National Garlic Festival, with proponents saying the investment will generate more than the cost while opponents say it doesn’t meet the qualifications of Covid-relief money.

The nearly quarter-million investment is meant to create awareness of the festival taking place May 13-15.

Below is the breakdown of the spending:

Supervisor Nathan Magsig said the event would help local farmers, hoteliers, restaurants and “generate more resources than it will consume.”

An economic impact summary by the Fresno/Clovis Convention & Visitors Bureau estimates the event would bring in $198,707 in local taxes. They project 10,000 overnight attendees and 110,000 day attendees with an estimated need for 5,815 lodging rooms.

The event would generate $7.84 million in direct business sales and $4.97 million in indirect business sales, totaling $12.8 million in business sales and 5,504 jobs supported, according to the report.

Supervisor Sal Quintero saw it as an opportunity to bring in money that doesn’t exist here with tourists coming in from all around. This could generate interest in places such as Forestiere Undergound Gardens or the Legion of Valor Museum, Quintero said.

Magsig added an amendment stating that Fresno County was a sponsor of the event.

At the same time, Chairman Brian Pacheco didn’t feel the investment met the intention of American Rescue Plan funds. He said he didn’t feel comfortable using Rescue Plan dollars meant to help people and organizations affected by the pandemic for a festival.

Passed in 2021, the American Rescue Plan earmarked $350 billion of $1.9 trillion to local and state governments to help make up for economic losses caused by the pandemic and related shutdowns.

Fresno County received $194 million. Four eligible funding categories were identified. Category “A” would support public health and fund Covid-19 mitigation efforts. It would also address negative economic impacts to workers, families, small businesses and industries impacted by losses during the pandemic. The three other categories include pay for essential workers, replacement funds for public sector revenue loss and water, sewer and broadband infrastructure.

So far, the County has allocated $6 million to area hospitals for Covid relief and sent another $15.4 million for premium pay for employees. The County has another $173 million to allocate before the end of 2024.

Pacheco said it “doesn’t meet the category for lost revenue.”

Supervisor Buddy Mendes was in agreement, also voting against the earmark.

Organizers for The Garlic Festival brought the event to Fresno County as the county produces 77% of the nation’s garlic. The event, organized by Fresno-based National Food Festivals, would feature 300 garlic-inspired foods, multiple stages, fireworks and celebrity chefs from the Food Network.

Peter De Young, CEO of National Food Festivals, organized Fresno’s first garlic festival in 2019 at River Park.

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