Note: This article was written by Joy Anyeneh, a student at the Dr. TJ Owens Gilroy Early College Academy (GECA), who is currently volunteering on the marketing team for the San Benito Olive Festival.
Coming from San Antonio, a large city in the state of Texas, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when told that I would be moving to Hollister. I had never heard of Hollister before. As a 12-year-old girl, I imagined that it was like Los Angeles or San Francisco, a bustling city with tons of exciting things to do and lots of people all around. Needless to say, I was shocked when I entered the Hollister city limits and was greeted by… land. Now that I have lived here for a while, I know that the “land” is used for farming, which, by the way, is no easy task. And, when I look out of my window, I see picturesque rolling hills and orchards full of trees with fresh fruit dangling from their limbs. While it was a difficult transition, I soon grew to love this city that I call my home.
Last year, during the summer of my sophomore year in high school, I heard about a volunteer position with the San Benito Olive Festival (SBOF) from a close friend of mine and figured, “Hey, this could be a really amazing opportunity.” When I walked into the SBOF office space, I had no idea what to expect, but the environment was very welcoming and kind. It was very easy to mesh with the group. Not long after that, I began to volunteer for SBOF. As of right now, I am helping with the festival’s marketing team. One of the great things about volunteering for the festival is that the skills I learn and develop I can take with me, not only into college, but through life as well.
In volunteering for SBOF, as well as through family members who work for the county, I learned how great the first festival was, and, from what I see while volunteering, I know that we are sure to amaze again at the second annual festival on October 11. There’ll be ample opportunities for festival guests to taste award-winning olive oils, premium wines, craft beer and delectable pairings while enjoying beautiful art and music.
What I am most excited about are the live cooking demonstrations! As part of the gourmet celebration entertainment, talented regional celebrity chefs will be conducting live cooking demonstrations with local ingredients. I was so happy when I found out that two of my favorite celebrity chefs are returning this year—the SakaBozzo Twins, Separated at Birth, of the famous Garlic Festival. I actually had the chance to assist Sam Bozzo and Gene Sakahara during the SBOF’s cooking demo at the Hollister Farmers Market. I enjoy watching cooking shows on TV, but seeing these two cook in person, and laughing along with their hilarious jokes, took my experience to a whole new level. I can’t wait to see them again.
Another returning favorite of mine is the Central Coast beloved celebrity chef, Dorothy McNett. Although I have never met Dorothy, I did some research and I loved her story. Chef Dorothy once owned a gourmet cookware store in Hollister and at the same time recorded a cooking show. She was then discovered by KION, which put her on the air with her own cooking show. Today, Dorothy has combined her love of teaching, cooking and food to host the "Cooking Club" in the Monterey Bay Area.
The new SBOF celebrity chefs will also continue the fun at the cooking demo stage. They include Chef Mike Fisher of Fisher’s Catering, a Hollister native who was classically trained in Paris, France; Chef Eric Carter of Cabrillo College’s Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management Program; and Chef David Boswell of Yahoo! Café Bon Appétit.
Two new and exciting things at the Olive Festival this year are the Olive Bar and the Olive Education booth. They both will be fun and interactive as they showcase the variety of olives.
I’m so incredibly lucky to have gotten this experience to go behind the scenes and help out with the marketing. The work is not over yet; I can hardly wait to see how everything turns out!
The San Benito Olive Festival will take place on Saturday, Oct. 11, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., at Bolado Park, 9000 Airline Hwy, in Tres Pinos.
The cost of general admission is $20 for adults and $10 for children, ages 5 to 10. VIP admission (for ages 21 and older) is $35, which grants admission to the festival and access to a wine and craft beer tasting area, five tastings, a branded wine glass and delightful treats. Individuals may be asked to show a photo ID before entering the tasting area. Festival parking is free.
Tickets are available at Postal Graphics and San Benito Bene in Hollister; Visions in San Juan Bautista; and the Gilroy Chamber of Commerce, Gilroy Welcome Center and Patti’s Perfect Pantry in Gilroy. Tickets are also sold online at Eventbrite.com.