The famed Gilroy Garlic Festival returns July 29-31, this time with improved transportation for South Bay residents.

A staple of summer for 20 years, the Garlic Fest attracts tens of thousands of visitors from all over the world for a weekend filled with cookcoffs, concerts and arts and crafts. What started out as a celebration of “The Pungent Rose” has erupted into a cultural phenomenon filled with music, food and community togetherness. Over 4,000 volunteers come together every year to help serve garlic-infused dishes to visitors, and many use the time to fundraise for their organizations from across the Bay Area. To date, the festival has given back more than $4 million to the community.

For many, though, reaching the festival and returning home can be an all-day mission in itself. Anyone who has been unlucky enough to take 101 during the Garcic Fest been subjected to gridlock traffic in 90-plus degree heat. Even Monterey Road sees its lanes come to a stand still.

This year, however, Garlic Fest President Dave Reynolds announced the return of the Garlic Train. Visitors on Saturday and Sunday can take CalTrain non-stop from Diridon Station in downtown San Jose to Gilroy. A shuttle bus will then take visitors to and from the park grounds. Tickets for the train include festival admission and run from $40 to $58.

Also new this year are two cooking competitions. Friday will feature local firefighters and EMTs at the “Champions for Charity” contest. While Saturday and Sunday will have the “Gilroy Garli-Que BBQ Challenge,” a Kansas City BBQ Society-sanctioned competition featuring some of the best BBQers around the country competing for a $7,500 prize.

Purchase tickets for the Garlic Train here.