2014 Salinas Steinbeck Festival

May 2 - 4, 2014, throughout Steinbeck Country

Onward: A Celebration of the 75th Anniversary of The Grapes of Wrath


The Grapes of Wrath

For 34 years, the Steinbeck Festival has invited the author's fans to his home town for a weekend-long celebration of his life and work. This year's festival features 3 renowned speakers, 10 Steinbeck Country Tours, 2 major events, 9 authors, artists and musicians and more!

Festival Schedule

Saturday May 3, 2014

All events take place at the National Steinbeck Center, One Main Street, Salinas, unless otherwise indicated. 

8:00 – 9:00AM
Morning Social

Arrive a little early to enjoy coffee, tea and a continental breakfast in the Rotunda
(included in Saturday morning ticket price)

Welcome by Colleen Bailey, Executive Director, National Steinbeck Center

 8:50AM – 12:00PM
Morning Talks

“…There ain't no sin and there ain't no virtue. There's just stuff people do.”
The legacy and continued impact of The Grapes of Wrath, shared from three unique perspectives.
$30/$25 Members

8:50 – 9:50AM
"Carol, Ed, and John: Shaping The Grapes of Wrath"
with Susan Shillinghaw
A specialist on Nobel Prize-winning author John Steinbeck, Susan Shillinglaw is one of the top scholars in the world on the subject, and since 2005 has been scholar-in-residence at the National Steinbeck Center. Susan has recently published Carol and John Steinbeck: Portrait of a Marriage, a biography of Steinbeck’s first marriage to San Jose native Carol Henning and On Reading The Grapes of Wrath, which commemorates the 75th anniversary of its first publication. Presentation by Susan Shillinglaw, Professor of English at San Jose State University and Scholar-in-Residence at the National Steinbeck Center.

10:00 – 10:50AM
"Making a Difference: The Grapes of Wrath as an American Fiction" with Professor Stephen Railton

Steinbeck’s novel is both experimental, in the Modernist tradition of writers like Hemingway and Faulkner, and polemical, and so part of the tradition that begins in American fiction with Uncle Tom’s Cabin. By looking at the various journeys depicted in the book, this talk will try to map its place in those larger cultural stories. Stephen Railton teaches American literature at the University of Virginia.

11:00 – 11:50AM
"Obscene in the Extreme: The Burning and Banning of The Grapes of Wrath" with Rick Wartzman
This talk explores the burning and banning of The Grapes of Wrath in Kern County, California in August 1939 and uses this episode as a window into the class politics of 1930s America. Rick Wartzman is the executive director of the Drucker Institute, a social enterprise at Claremont Graduate University whose mission is strengthening organizations to strengthen society. For 20 years, Wartzman was a reporter, editor and columnist at  The Wall Street Journal and the Los Angeles Times. He is the author of Obscene in the Extreme: The Burning and Banning of John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath.

12:00 – 1:00PM
Book Signing in Rotunda
Meet the Festival speakers!
(included in Saturday Morning Ticket Price)

12:30 – 1:30PM
NSC Archive Tour 2

“Up ahead they's a thousan' lives we might live, but when it comes it'll on'y be one.”
See unique items from the collection, including the Center’s exciting recent acquisitions, with Curator of Marketing and Community Engagement Marcos Cabrera.
(included in Saturday Morning Ticket Price)

1:30 – 2:30PM  
Ricketts’ Lab Tour 2
“Muscles aching to work, minds aching to create this is man.”
Experience a tour of this rarely visited literary, scientific and Bohemian haunt with Cannery Row historian Michael Hemp, founder and president of the Cannery Row Foundation.
Meet at Ed Ricketts’ Lab. Address: 800 Cannery Row (Limited to 15 - advance reservations required). Not ADA accessible. This program is not sponsored or endorsed by the City of Monterey.

2:00 - 3:00 PM
Why Read The Grapes of Wrath in 2014

Join Susan Shillinglaw, Rick Wartzman and Stephen Railton for a conversation about the influence and importance of The Grapes of Wrath.(Included in Saturday Morning Ticket Price)

2:00 – 4:00PM 
Agriculture Bus Tour (SOLD OUT) 
“The vineyards, the orchards, the great flat valley, green and beautiful…”Discover the history of agriculture of the Salinas Valley from John Steinbeck’s early years to the present day. Learn how agriculture affected his outlook and how he subsequently colored the public’s perception of agriculture. Participate in a short tour of the historic town of Spreckels, where both John and his father worked in the sugar beet plant. Go into the fields, observe how crops are grown, harvested and marketed, and speak with growers and Ag professionals. Pick-up and drop-off at NSC. 

3:00 – 4:00PM
NSC Archive Tour 3

“You're bound to get idears if you go thinkin' about stuff.”
See unique items from the collection, including the Center’s exciting recent acquisitions, with Curator of Marketing and Community Engagement Marcos Cabrera.
(included in Saturday Morning Ticket Price)

3:30 – 4:30PM  
Ricketts’ Lab Tour 3 (SOLD OUT)
“He drank too much when he could get it… talked too much all the time.”Experience a tour of this rarely visited literary, scientific and Bohemian haunt with Cannery Row historian Michael Hemp, founder and president of the Cannery Row Foundation.
Meet at Ed Ricketts’ Lab. Address: 800 Cannery Row (Limited to 15 - advance reservations required). Not ADA accessible. This program is not sponsored or endorsed by the City of Monterey.

6:30 – 9:00PM  
The Grapes of Wrath Barn Party (SOLD OUT)

“…perhaps a man brought out his guitar.”
Join us at the Monterey Peninsula Regional Park District’s Palo Corona Ranch on Saturday, May 3 from 6:30 – 9:00PM. Begin the evening with a glass of wine while watching the sunset over Inspiration Point, surrounded by an 180-degree view of Carmel Valley and the Pacific Coast. Then, back down the mountain for a farmhouse dinner in the Palo Corona barn, with amazing live music by Rob Halverson ("The Grapes of Wrath 75 Project") and tasty beers from the Dust Bowl Brewery. After dinner and under the stars, enjoy a teaser of ‘The Grapes of Wrath: An American Journey’ documentary, including an introduction from the filmmaker, P.J.  Palmer. This film includes footage and interviews from the National Steinbeck Center’s cross country road trip along Route 66 in October of 2013.

All attendees must take a shuttle to the event at Palo Corona If you have not yet confirmed which shuttle you are taking with Phillip, please contact him ASAP at (831) 775-4721. Shuttles depart from the front of the National Steinbeck Center at 5:30PM or from the Carmel Crossroads Parking Lot between 6:00 and 6:20PM.

Sunday May 4, 2014
Community Free Day

11:00AM - 12:15PM
Dust Bowl Stories from the Salinas Valley
Long time Salinas residents will share stories of their Dust Bowl experiences with the public.

Moderator: John Mahoney
John is a retired educator, volunteer at the Steinbeck House, National Steinbeck Center as well as the Steinbeck Same Page Book Club. John volunteers at numerous other civic organizations and is a native of Salinas.

Panel Members:
Bonnie Alvardo:
Bonnie is a homemaker who came to Salinas by way of Colorado during her early childhood. She will captivate you with her recollection of her family’s Dust Bowl experience and early life in the Alisal. Recording stories of others from the Dust Bowl is her personal interest.
Larry Balentine:
Larry arrived in Salinas at the age of 5 from Tulare, CA. His mother migrated to the San Joaquin Valley from Texas during the time of the Dust Bowl. Larry has a passion for preserving the stories of those who had similar experiences of that migration. He has been active in many civic organizations during his career as a financial advisor.
Pearl Flores:
Pearl came to Salinas from Oklahoma as a child. Her family settled in the Alisal before it became a part of Salinas. Pearl will share her memories and experiences of the journey her family endured. Pearl worked for the City of Salinas in the Recreation Department while her husband was employed in the Public Works Dept.
Luther Vaden:
Luther arrived in Salinas in 1942 from Oklahoma. Born in 1929, he has memories of the depression and his parent’s stories of the Dust Bowl. Luther retired after 43 years in the banking business, 22 years of which was spent as the Manager of the Salinas Valley Savings and Loan.

1:00 – 2:30PM
Steinbeck Young Authors Awards Ceremony, with special guest speaker and Salinas local, Luis ‘xago’ Juarez. 'xago' is co-founder of Baktun 12, a performance-based collective born out of East Salinas that has maintained a critical and creative presence in its community for over 20 years. In 1990, Juarez worked with El Teatro Campesino, where he received specialized theater training. That served as the foundation for a prolific career in theater arts. Juarez wrote, produced and performed his brand of Chicano Teatro for the next three decades. His most recent productions include the documentary theater series "reAlisal: Your Neighbor's Story" and "reAlisal: Stories from Acosta Plaza," both presented at the Breadbox Theater in East Salinas. Celebrate the finalists of the 11th annual Steinbeck Young Authors program, which has served over 20,000 students annually.

2:00 – 4:30PM
Bus Tour 2: Wine Tour of River Road
“…the first tendrils of the grapes, swelling from the old gnarled vines, cascade down…”
Join the Monterey County Vintners and Growers Association for a bus tour of a few of the vineyards in Monterey County.  The tour will include wine tasting and an overview of the history of the wine industry in Steinbeck Country.
$75/$65 members

We See It This Way: CSUMB Student Exhibition, 2014
The National Steinbeck Center to presents the 2014 Senior Capstone Projects of:
•Kirsten Brown: Visual & Public Art Dept- Creativity in Camouflage-
 Products of Morale and the Fort Ord Arts and Crafts Program
•Sarah Hollingsworth and Veronica Griffith: Human Communication Dept-Oral Histories of Chinatown-Embracing the Street
• Stacey Limone: Visual & Public Art Dept - Light Alchemy  
• Emily Thompson: Integrated Studies Dept –Things Concealed: Art as Therapy  
• Alyssa Thompson: Visual & Public Art Dept - Salinas: What’s the Object?: Curating the remarkable stories and objects of Salinas.
Also featuring for the first time a photography student from Monterey Peninsula College:
• Patrick Russo:  A Different Perspective

2:30 – 4:30PM
“Route 66” Workshop Stations for Children and their Families
• Quilting Workshop
• How to rebuild a vintage car engine
• Jam-making workshop
• Printmaking workshop with artist Patricia Wakida 
• “What would you bring with you?” workshop

Travel and Lodging

Information on travel and lodging can be found here. 

Educational Resources and Programs

The National Steinbeck Center has developed several educational programs designed for use by librarians, teachers, book clubs and community groups. These activities will help bring The Grapes of Wrath anniversary celebration into focus for your community.

To learn about our educational resources and programs, click here.

Past Steinbeck Festivals