Thistle be fun: Artichoke Festival celebrates prickly produce in Monterey this weekend

Artichokes, California's official state vegetable, are displayed for sale at a produce market. California produces nearly 100 percent of the nation's artichoke crop, with nearly two-thirds of it grown in Castroville in Monterey County. Monterey hosts the annual Artichoke Festival this weekend. (Bev Sykes/Flickr, CC BY)

One of the state’s proudest crops will take center stage this weekend at the Artichoke Festival set for Saturday and Sunday in Monterey.

Cooking demonstrations, live music and, of course, lots of artichoke dishes will be on hand at the Monterey County Fair and Event Center. There are also supplemental events, including a comedy show Friday night (“Thistle Be Funny,” the organizers promise).

Nearly 100 percent of America’s fresh artichoke supply is grown in California. In addition, nearly two-thirds of the crop is grown in Castroville, according to the event website.

For those who love paella (or are at least paella-curious), Saturday’s culinary lessons include a 2:30 p.m. pop-up paella demonstration with Chef Brandon Miller from Paella LLC.

The home page of the Artichoke Festivals website promotes this weekend’s festival at the Monterey County Fair and Event Center. (Screenshot via

The Artichoke Festival began in 1959 to celebrate what is now California’s official state vegetable. Norma Jean Mortenson, better known as Marilyn Monroe, was named California’s first honorary Artichoke Queen in 1948.

Not only is the event a chance to chow down on artichokes, proceeds are used to support local parks and recreational programs, senior programs and other registered nonprofit organizations.

The festival opens at 11 a.m. both days and runs until 9 p.m. Saturday and 6 p.m. Sunday. General admission tickets, which can be purchased online, are $20 for adults, $10 for children ages 6-12, or $15 for seniors 62 and older or military personnel with ID. Discount packages and tickets for wine tasting or the comedy show are also available.

The post Thistle be fun: Artichoke Festival celebrates prickly produce in Monterey this weekend appeared first on Local News Matters.

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