Steinbeck Festival

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Steinbeck Festival

May 4 - May 6

The annual Steinbeck Festival is a three-day celebration of John Steinbeck’s enduring legacy. The 2018 Steinbeck Festival will take place May 4-6 and the theme will be “The Women of Steinbeck’s World.”

The 2018 Steinbeck Festival celebrates the women Steinbeck created, those he knew, and those who influenced mid-century American culture. Ma Joad inspired this theme. Late in The Grapes of Wrath, Ma consoles Pa, who feels defeated by their losses:

“Man, he lives in jerks-baby born an’ a man dies, an’ that’s a jerk-gets a farm an’ loses his farm, an’ that’s a jerk. Woman, it’s all one flow, like a stream, little eddies, little waterfalls, but the river, it goes right on. Woman looks at it like that. We ain’t gonna die out. People is goin’ on-changin’ a little, maybe, but goin’ right on.”

 Pre-Festival Events

History Slam!
April 29 | 10-4pm | Japanese American Citizen League Hall, Monterey | Free!

Free Film Series: “Women In Film”
Mondays, March 26-April 30 | 6:00 PM |  Maya Cinemas, Salinas | Free!

 May 4-6
Festival Weekend Events

Hover over and click links in orange for schedule and directions

FRIDAY, May 4th


Steinbeck In Pacific Grove | Meet at Rec Trail, 11th St. and Ocean View Ave., Pacific Grove | 9:00-11:00 AM | $30
Join us for a tour of Steinbeck’s 11th St. cottage + Trotter Galleries, “The Artists of Steinbeck’s World.”



Ricketts’s Lab Tours | Pacific Biological Laboratories, Cannery Row | 10:00 AM, 11:00 AM | $20
Cosponsored by the Cannery Row Foundation.




Street of the Sardine | Intercontinental, The Clement, Monterey, Cannery Row | 12:15-1:15 PM | Free
A documentary by Eva Lothar on Cannery Row in the 1970s.







Festival Seminar Talks Hopkins Marine Station Boat Works | 1:00-5:00 PM | 1-Day ticket $30

Richard Astro | 1:30 | Provost Emeritus, Drexel University, and Edward F. Ricketts biographer, “Toni: A Remarkable Woman in a Remarkable Time: The Steinbeck-Ricketts Chronicle”

Steve Palumbi | 2:00 | Professor of Biology, Stanford University, “The Women Who Rebuilt Monterey Bay”

Stuart Chase | 2:45 | Executive Director, Monterey Museum of Art, “Year of the Woman, 2018”

Gavin Jones | 3:15 | Professor of English, Stanford University, “Fiction in the Lab: Steinbeck’s ‘The Snake’ and the Short Story Tradition”

Dixie Dixon | 4:00 | Dorothea Lange’s daughter-in-law to son Daniel of 15 years, “Universal Language: Dorthea Lange, Photographer”

Dr. Susan Shillinglaw | 4:45 | Professor of English, San Jose State University and Director of the National Steinbeck Center, “Wit and Whimsy: Steinbeck’s Three Wives”



Photo Credit: Michael Short, The Chronicle

Ricketts Lab Reception: Trumpet Tribute to Ed Ricketts Jr. (1923-2018) | Pacific Biological Laboratories, Cannery Row | 5:15-6:30 PM | $25
Trumpet tunes, beer milkshakes, and a wining jug!




Cannery Row Banquet | Intercontinental The Clement, Monterey | 6:45-9:30 PM | $150 single,  $1150 table for 8
Co-sponsored by the Cannery Row Foundation. Fundraising event to preserve the literary and historic legacy of Cannery Row and the National Steinbeck Center.

Sharon Brown Bacon | Carol Steinbeck’s step-daughter, Speaker

John Gregg | Speaker, “Progress on the Western Flyer, 2018”

Taelen Thomas & Steven Mortensen | Performers




Olive Steinbeck’s World | Historic Harvey House, Salinas | 8:45-10:00 AM | $10
Tour focuses on Steinbeck’s mother, Olive Steinbeck, and her friends. Tour also includes information about the Historic 1868 Harvey House and Rail Road Museum. (Meet at NSC)






Archive Exploration | National Steinbeck Center | 9:00-10:00 AM | Free
See highlights from our archive and collection with our Archivist Lisa Josephs while having your morning coffee.



Kate’s Walk: Tour of Downtown Salinas | (Meet at NSC) Main Street, Salinas | 3:15 PM | $10
Walk down the same streets that Kate did in East of Eden. Learn about Salinas’ rich literary history on this walking tour led by our docent John Mahoney.



Steinbeck’s Home Brew Fest | 100 Block of Main Street, Oldtown, Salinas | 11:00 AM-4:00 PM | $15 tickets
Tickets can be purchased at
Sponsored by Salinas Steinbeck Rotary Club.




Taco Lunch | National Steinbeck Center | 12:15 PM | $10





Olive Steinbeck’s House: The Wanderers Club | The Steinbeck House | 12:15 PM-1:30 PM | $25 tax and tip included
Special luncheon and presentations by Donald Kohrs and Susan Shillinglaw.






Festival Seminar Talks | National Steinbeck Center | 9:45 AM-5:00 PM | 1-Day ticket $30

Dr. Susan Shillinglaw | 9:45 | National Steinbeck Center Director, “Steinbeck’s Sisters”

Mimi Gladstein | 10:15 | Professor of English at University of Texas,  El Paso, and author of The Indestructible Woman in Faulkner, Hemingway and Steinbeck, “Maiden, mother, crone: Steinbeck’s Tripartite Female”

Devon Angus & Ivy Anderson | 11:30 | Editors of Alice: Memoirs of a Barbary Coast Prostitute, “Life on the Line: The Myth and Reality of Sex Work in Early 20th Century California”

Brian Duchaney | 2:00  |  PhD candidate, “Two can play at that game…”: Steinbeck’s Wartime Women and the Creation of the Literary Mistress”

Speaker TBA  | 2:30 | From Asian Cultural Experience (ACE) “Asian Women Working in Salinas”

Anthony Newfield | 4:00 | New York actor, “Curley’s Wife Sings: The background of the musical version of Of Mice and Men



Of Mice and Men, Musical Drama | 7:30 PM | Main Stage, Hartnell College | Free general seating
Adapted by Ira Bilowit & Wilson Lehr. West Coast Premiere performed by The Western Stage. A staged reading of Ira Bilowit’s 1958 musical of Of Mice and Men, directed by Jon Selover, Western Stage.


SUNDAY, May 6th


Red Pony Ranch Tour  | Meet at National Steinbeck Center | 9:30-11:30 AM | $50
Take a short bus ride to the ranch which inspired Steinbeck’s The Red Pony. Tour will highlight background of the area and book.







Pizza Lunch | National Steinbeck Center | 1:00 PM | Price TBD





Festival Seminar Talks | National Steinbeck Center | 10:45 AM – 2:00 PM | 1-Day ticket $30

Graciela Serna-Nutter, Linda Bynoe, & Jennifer Colby | 10:45 AM | Storytellers &
Partners for the Advancement of Teaching | Salinas Room, NSC
“Telling Women’s Stories: Ascension Solorsano, Toypurina, and The Pearl’s Juana”  (Teaching “The Pearl” curriculum project is funded by a grant from the Arts Council for Monterey County)

Rose Marie Beebe & Robert M. Senkewicz | 11:30 | Professors of Spanish Literature and of History, Santa Clara University | Salinas Room, NSC
“Testimonios: Early California through the Eyes of Women, 1815-1848″

Janet Whitchurch |  1:45 PM | Artist & Author | Art & Culture Gallery, NSC Museum
Book launch and exhibit opening reception for a selection of Salinas River paintings. Her new book is titled, The Salinas River: Running North &  Underground.



Festival Seminar Workshops | National Steinbeck Center | 12:00-4:00 PM | 1-Day ticket $30

Times listed here are different from those listed on our flyer. Website times are the most up-to-date and accurate for this preliminary schedule.

“Mujeres Campesinas y Huelgistas” (Female Fieldworkers & Strike Organizers) | 12:15 PM | Ignacio Ornelas Rodriguez, Ph.D. | Salinas Room, NSC

UC Berkeley visiting scholar researching the Bracero Program and its legacies while also examining the second-generation of Mexican and Mexican Americans who advocated for civil and voting rights in the Monterey Bay Area and communities across California. He is currently working on the publication of his manuscript titled The Struggle for Social Justice in the Monterey Bay Area 1930-2000:The Transformation of Mexican and Mexican American Political Activism.


“Girl Power: Women in Tech” | 3:00 PM | Digital Nest | Salinas Room, NSC

Digital NEST is proud to host a conference for Girls Who Code clubs in the Tri-County area. Our panel of female leaders will share their experiences with the goal to inspire today’s young females to pursue careers in tech.

Digital NEST is a career development non-profit that focuses on helping Latinos in communities that have been left out – or locked out – of the digital economy to secure a prosperous place in that digital economy.



Ticket Information

Friday, May 4th, 1-day ticket includes: NSC admission Friday, Hopkins Marine Station talks (1-5), film (12:15-1:00), + Ricketts’s Lab Reception (5:15-6:30)  | $30 purchase here

Saturday, May 5th, 1-day ticket includes: NSC admission Saturday, NSC talks (1-5), continental breakfast + Western Stage performance (7:30 pm) | $30 purchase here

Sunday, May 6th, 1-Day Ticket includes: NSC admission Sunday, Sunday talks (10:00-4:00), workshops (12:00-4:00), continental breakfast | $30 purchase here

The 3-Day Festival Ticket, May 4-6, includes: Friday, Saturday, Sunday talks + Friday Lab Reception + Sat/Sunday continental breakfasts + Saturday taco lunch + Sunday reception. Includes admission to the NSC museum for weekend | Monterey & Salinas | May 4-6  | $90 purchase here

Steinbeck In Pacific Grove tour, Ricketts’s Lab tours, Cannery Row Banquet, Olive Steinbeck’s World tour, Kate’s Walk: Tour of Downtown Salinas, Steinbeck’s Home Brew Fest tickets, Olive Steinbeck’s House: The Wanderers Club lunch, Red Pony Ranch Tour, & Sunday Pizza Lunch are all à la cart options available to add on to any 1-day ticket or 3-day ticket.

Ways to purchase tickets:

  • In person, stop by the front desk: 1 Main Street, Salinas, CA 93901
  • Over the phone, call the front desk: 831.775.4721
  • Online through Eventbrite: Click Here

Lodging and Directions

The National Steinbeck Center is proud to work with local hotel, Holiday Inn Express & Suites Salinas. They have provided us with a block of hotel rooms at a discounted rate for Festival Goers.





Reserve a room at the Holiday Inn Express & Suites, Salinas  by:

  • Calling 831.737.1160. Ask for the reservations department. Once speaking with a reservations agent, mention the group block name of “Steinbeck Festival 2018” and arrival/departure dates and the discounted rates will be given.
  • Reserving online. Go to the HIE’s website: Steinbeck Festival 2018
Please note guests will have until April 27th to make their reservations at this discounted rate. After this date, the rooms not reserved will be released and the discounted rates will no longer apply.

If you have questions, call the Holiday Inn Express & Suites 831.737.1160

For directions to Festival locations: hover over and click orange links. Directions in Google Maps should open in a new tab or window.

If you have more specific direction questions, call 831.775.4721


CLICK HERE to purchase tickets

If you have questions, please email Susan Shillinglaw,