Castroville Artichoke Festival

Coordinates: 36°35′40.49″N 121°51′44.66″W / 36.5945806°N 121.8624056°W / 36.5945806; -121.8624056
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Castroville Artichoke Festival is a food festival held annually in Castroville, a town in Monterey County of the U.S. State of California. The city, which calls itself the "Artichoke Center of the World",[1] began promoting the artichoke with a festival in 1960, and the festival has grown so large that it has been moved out of the town, into a nearby convention center. Castroville Artichoke Festival 2009 marked the 50th anniversary of this celebration.


Castroville artichokes[edit]

Artichokes were brought to California by Italian immigrants in the late 19th century, and to Castroville in the 1920s when Andrew Molera planted an acre of artichokes on his ranch. In 1922, Angelo del Chiaro and his cousin leased 150 acres from Molera and expanded the artichoke crop.[2] By 1926, 12,000 acres in California, most of them in Castroville, were dedicated to growing artichokes.[3]

The beginning of the fair[edit]

Parade Cowboys and Horses

The Castroville Artichoke Festival evolved from an earlier May Days Parade and band competition. A pancake breakfast and a barbecue were added to the event and, in 1959, a band leader and three local business owners formed the Castroville Artichoke Advisory Board. The board came up with the name Castroville Artichoke Festival.[4] The two-day event is held every year in May, originally in Castroville and, since 2014, at the Monterey County Fair and Event Center.[5] In 2009, the festival marked its 50th year, and in 2011, 20,000 people attended the festival.[6]

Marilyn Monroe was crowned the 1st Honorary Artichoke Queen in 1948, Sally DeSante Hebert was crowned the 1st Festival Artichoke Queen in 1961 and the first Artichoke King was Andrew O'Desky in 1974. William Hung was crowned the Artichoke King on May 21, 2006.[7]

The festival in the 21st century[edit]

Artichoke Kids

The festival is sponsored by local artichoke companies. It includes a parade, live music, an agro art competition with three-dimensional fruit and vegetable artwork, farmers markets, field tours, artichoke souvenirs sales, wine, beer & spirits garden, cooking demos, 5k beach run, canasta (basket) race, quilt challenge, and a Marilyn Monroe look-a-like contest.[8] The food at the festival includes artichokes – fried, sauteed, grilled, marinated, pickled, fresh, and creamed as soup, and cooked into cupcakes.[6][5]

2020 saw the festival's cancellation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The 61st was deferred to 2021.

In popular culture[edit]

In the Toot & Puddle episode "Putting the Art in Artichoke," the title characters visit Castroville for the Artichoke Festival.

In the Netflix series Stranger Things, the character Dustin wears a Castroville Artichoke Festival shirt in episodes 6–8.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Times, James Sterngold; James Sterngold Is A. Reporter For The Business Day Section Of The (1986-07-27). "Deep In The Heart Of Artichoke City". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-08-30. {{cite news}}: |first= has generic name (help)CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  2. ^ Clovis, Margaret (2006). Monterey County's North Coast and Coastal Valleys. Arcadia Publishing. pp. 22–25. ISBN 978-0-7385-4677-3.
  3. ^ Hathaway, Nancy (1987-09-01). "Artichoke city. Castroville is connected to its most famous product in the same way Detroit is connected to the automobile". Christian Science Monitor. ISSN 0882-7729. Retrieved 2017-08-30.
  4. ^ Taylor, Dennis (May 17, 2009). "Artichokes Are OK: Castroville festival wasn't always so popular". Monterey Herald. Retrieved 2017-08-30.
  5. ^ a b "Castroville Artichoke Festival moves to Monterey fairgrounds". Santa Cruz Sentinel. May 28, 2014. Retrieved 2017-08-30.
  6. ^ a b "Castroville Artichoke Festival: Celebrating a 'cool,' coastal vegetable". Daily Republic. 2012-03-03. Retrieved 2017-08-30.
  7. ^ "William Hung crowned 'Artichoke King'". May 18, 2006. Retrieved August 30, 2017.
  8. ^ Service, Bay City News (2019-06-02). "Artichoke Cupcakes, Artichoke Art On Display At Annual Festival In Castroville". SFGate. Retrieved 2019-07-12.

External links[edit]

36°35′40.49″N 121°51′44.66″W / 36.5945806°N 121.8624056°W / 36.5945806; -121.8624056