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Monterey’s Artichoke Festival Celebrates 65 Years in 2024

Monterey County’s annual celebration of California’s official state vegetable hits a milestone this year

By Amanda Christensen

Hosted each year in the summer, Monterey County’s Artichoke Festival features a plethora of events, culinary experiences, tours, and activities all centered on the celebration of the artichoke. Perhaps little known to many, this little pocket along California’s central coast, specifically the city of Castroville, produces nearly two-thirds of the world’s artichokes. Home to just 6,500 residents, Castroville has been brought to the global veggie stage as the “Artichoke Capital of the World.”

Castroville town sign above road. Jan. 22, 2024
Castroville town sign || Courtesy of See Monterey

The Artichoke Festival has a long history in Monterey County, with its origins rooted in events like the naming of Norma Jean Mortensen, better known as Marilyn Monroe, as California’s first honorary Artichoke Queen in 1948. The first festival was held 11 years later in 1959 as an ode and celebration to this region, considered the “Artichoke Center of the World.”

To continue the topic of nicknames, the Salinas Valley that surrounds Castroville is known as the “Salad Bowl of the World,” an ode to the region’s thriving farming and agriculture communities. For this year’s 65th annual Artichoke Festival held June 8-9, planners can consider adding any one of several activities and experiences for attendees to enjoy the tasty thistle species so unique to Monterey.

The Monterey Bay Quesadilla dish with artichoke hearts from Baja Cantina Carmel in Monterey County. Jan. 22, 2024
The Monterey Bay Quesadilla dish with artichoke hearts from Baja Cantina Carmel in Monterey County || Courtesy of See Monterey

The 2024 theme will be “Artichoke Festival: Where Fun Blossoms.” Visitors will have access to artichoke farm tours, culinary experiences focused on the green veggie, wine tasting, live music, comedy nights, and more. A digital interactive trail map and other information are available on See Monterey’s website, the county’s convention and visitor’s bureau, to help guide visitors around festival sites like farm stands and restaurants that feature artichoke-centered dishes.

seemonterey.com/artichokes

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