Salinas, CA, April 12, 2016 - The Steinbeck Festival is back! The National Steinbeck Center, at One Main Street, Salinas, offers a weekend of engaging “JON talks,” new films, and a variety of tours (the Red Pony Ranch, Salinas walking tours, an Ag tour, Ricketts’s lab tour, and whale watching). Friday night’s banquet at the NSC features a talk by the Aquarium’s new Director of Science, Kyle Van Houtan. On Saturday, May 7, the NSC is partnering with Steinbeck Rotary’s Home Beer Fest on Main—adding more “fest” to the annual festival. Sunday features a slate of teacher workshops at the NSC.
The three-day Festival celebrates Steinbeck’s land/sea ethic and his enduring legacy as writer, activist, and ecologist.
At Friday night’s banquet and wine tasting, Dr. Van Houtan will discuss “The sea turtle populations of Hawaii—linking ocean, land and culture.” (John Steinbeck and each crew member on the Western Flyer brought stuffed sea turtles back from Baja!)
This year’s Festival features films and crowd-pleasing “JON talks,” lively half hour discussions of Steinbeck’s enduring legacy as well as local history. Director Susan Shillinglaw kicks off at 9:00 AM Friday with remarks about Steinbeck’s sense of place: How is the local, global? Friday morning speakers also include biographer William Souder (author of Rachel Carson and John James Audobon biographies), who will introduce his Steinbeck-biography-in-progress. Stanford English Department Chair Gavin Jones considers Steinbeck, land, drought and race. A round table discussion follows. Afternoon speakers consider the cultural impact of braceros in the Salinas Valley—with author Sergio Chavez; documentary filmmaker Ignacio Rodriguez; and photographer Daniel Ruanova. Jean Vengua discusses Filipinos newspapers and Eric Palmer will show a “teaser” of his documentary film about Japanese Flower growers.
Tours on Friday include the Red Pony Ranch and Salinas’s Main Street.
Saturday features presentations on Steinbeck and the sea, with Steinbeck scholar Robert DeMott kicking off the day’s events with a talk on Steinbeck and fishing. Ricketts’s scholar Katie Rodgers will discuss a newly-published essay by Edward F. Ricketts. John Gregg, owner of the boat Steinbeck and Ricketts sailed to Baja in 1940, explains recent restoration work on The Western Flyer. Mary Ellen Hannibal talks about her new book on citizen science. After morning sessions, participants can stroll Main Street’s Home Beer Festival, sponsored by the Steinbeck Rotary (one beer garden is at the NSC!). That afternoon offers a “cioppino” of different “JON talks,” including “Craft Beer 101” (Steinbeck once appeared in an ad for Balantine Ale.) Former National Book Award director Harold Augenbraum discusses The Pearl in English and Spanish; Stanford professor William Gilly recounts his 2004 trip retracing Ricketts and Steinbeck’s 1940 Sea of Cortez trip; and David Dennis discusses how he creates surfboards from Steinbeck themed wood.
On Saturday night at the Steinbeck House, there will be a craft beer tasting benefit dinner at the Steinbeck House, with all proceeds going to the Steinbeck Center.
Sunday’s teacher workshop theme is “crossing boundaries” and panelists will discuss integrated lessons: jazz, teaching the common good, and Japanese internment.
A three-day Festival pass is $75 (excluding dinners and tours). Tickets are available online at Steinbeck.org or call 831-775-4721.
Marci Bracco Cain
Salinas, CA 93901