MONTEREY, Calif., May 4, 2021 — 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 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 demos will be hosted by Partnership for Children, a local nonprofit.

Families and festival-goers can expect a bountiful farmer’s market, and an AGRO Art competition sponsored by Ocean Mist Farms, the largest grower of artichokes in the U.S. New this year are an ag education exhibit, and a hot rod car show. Other popular features returning this year include arts and crafts vendors, the artichoke harvest contest, a taste of California wines and beers, and more.

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 Salinas Valley Arts and Innovation Hub, Salinas Steinbeck Rotary, Partnership for Children, Gold Coast Rods, 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.

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