MONTEREY, Calif., — With a renewed focus on local food, entertainment and ag- themed activities, the Artichoke Festival returns to the Monterey County Fairgrounds on July 24-25, 2021, with one promise — “Thistle be a Good Time!”

Following a year of shelter-in-place restrictions and social distancing, the festival is eager to celebrate the region fondly known as “the Artichoke Center of the World.” With the 2021 theme promising fun for all ages while celebrating the famous thistle, the 61st  annual event expects to host at least 8,000 visitors over two days.

California residents are invited to join in the fun, confident that current safety and social distancing protocols will be followed. Advance festival admission tickets will soon be available at and at the door, ranging from $15 for adults; $5 for youth 6-12, $10 for active military and seniors (62+). Children under 6 are free. Special early-bird ticket packages will be on sale until July 10.

Back on the menu for 2021 are gourmet artichoke dishes, with products supplied by the region’s top growers. Artichokes will be prepared in a variety of ways, including: fried, steamed, grilled, and in unique forms such as lumpia, burritos, sausage, cupcakes and even ice cream.

There will be daily cooking demonstrations with local chefs, who will showcase the artichoke’s versatility and unique cooking techniques.

The first three chefs confirmed so far for the daily Chef Demos include Chef Daniel Elinan, Executive Chef at The Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel & Spa; Eduardo Coronel, Executive Chef of Rio Grill in Carmel; and Chef Ivan, part of the Culinary Team at Tarpy’s Roadhouse in Monterey.

This year’s Chef Demos will be hosted by Partnership for Children, which has been providing transportation to medical care and family support services for children with life-threatening conditions living in Monterey, Santa Cruz, and San Benito counties since 2007. Partnership for Children’s transportation and financial assistance programs increase access to compassionate care for children on the Central Coast. For more about Partnership for Children visit their website at

The festival is also looking for chefs who would like to demonstrate their creative artichoke recipes at the Artichoke Festival Chef Demos. Interested chefs can call Jennifer Ramirez at 831-422-3002, or send her an email at

Families and festival-goers can expect a bountiful farmer’s market, as well as new this year, an ag education exhibit, a new car show hosted by Gold Coast Rods, and a new carnival. Other popular features returning this year include arts and crafts vendors, the artichoke harvest contest, a new art exhibit, and more. The wine tasting event had to be cancelled due to safety precautions and social distancing protocols.

Festival proceeds will benefit nonprofit organizations and programs that serve the greater Castroville community. This year, onsite activities will directly benefit nonprofit partners, which include Partnership for Children and the Marina Lion’s Club. The festival gives back to nonprofit programs that include local senior centers, sports and parks and recreation activities in North Monterey County schools, and other community enrichment programs.

While not hosting the AgroArt competition this year, Ocean Mist Farms continues to support the Festival with cash donations and by donating artichokes and other produce for the Farmer’s Market and artichoke specialty food booths.

For more information visit