California: Steinbeck fest highlights in Salinas


Tough times. Drastic climate swings. Sound familiar? The 75th anniversary of John Steinbeck’s momentous “The Grapes of Wrath” could hardly come at a more compelling time. The National Steinbeck Center will help bridge events of the past and present at its 34th annual festival, May 2-4 in Salinas, Calif.

“And the little screaming fact that sounds through all history: repression works only to strengthen and knit the repressed,” goes one of the novel’s passages.

The three-day celebration for “The Grapes of Wrath” will feature readings, speakers and even a special barn party. The party is $78, and ranch tours run about $50. But other activities are in the more-populist $10 to $20 range.

Ticket info can be found here or obtained by calling (831) 775-4721. For general information on the festival and center, go to


Highlights for the 2014 festival include:

May 2 (Friday)

Opening Night Speakeasy featuring the debut of a new exhibit by artist Patricia Wakida, a reading of a new play by playwright Octavio Solis, 1930s tunes and Dust Bowl-era cocktails.

May 3 (Saturday)

Presentations by National Steinbeck Center scholar-in-residence Susan Shillinglaw (Carol, Ed and John: Shaping “The Grapes of Wrath”); University of Virginia professor Stephen Railton (Making a Difference: “The Grapes of Wrathas an American Fiction); and Drucker Institute Executive Director Rick Wartzman (Obscene in the Extreme: The Burning and Banning of “The Grapes of Wrath).

“The Grapes of Wrath” Barn Party at Monterey Peninsula Regional Park District’s Palo Corona Ranch, featuring an 180-degree view of Carmel Valley and the Pacific Coast, followed by a 1930s farm-house dinner and an exclusive first look at the documentary “The Grapes of Wrath: An American Journey” by director P.J. Palmer.

May 4 (Sunday)

Free Community Day and Steinbeck Young Authors Awards Ceremony with keynote speaker Luis “Xago” Juarez.

Throughout the weekend

Tours of the East of Eden Ranch, Ed Ricketts’ Lab on Cannery Row, the National Steinbeck Center archives, wine areas of River Road, Salinas Valley Agricultural land, and Steinbeck’s Monterey.

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