HOLTVILLE – Known as the “carrot capital of the world,” Holtville lived up to its nickname Saturday by attracting thousands of new and familiar faces to the 69th Annual Carrot Festival Saturday morning that was themed “Let Carrots Rock Your World.”
With the surrounding farmland well-known for growing and harvesting tons of carrots, the City of Holtville has celebrated the Carrot Festival since the mid-20th century, becoming the city’s yearly signature event.
“This event is always fun,” said Robin Iten, the festival’s parade emcee for the past 15 years. “Everybody knows everybody and everyone enjoys this event, especially with a day full of sunshine like this.”
This year’s Grand Marshal was writer and producer Johnny Shaw, an Imperial Valley native who graduated from Holtville High School in 1986. With three books published and one to be released later this month, Shaw also spent time autographing books purchased by locals.
Highline Cooling and Rusty Payne won first place for their unique and elaborate float that included a giant rocking carrot designed by Ted Flores. The float also featured musicians and a beautiful array of winter vegetables. Following the parade, the group sold all the produce and donated the proceeds to student organizations at Holtville High School.
“I am wowed with the float that won first place,” said Marsha Santos, an Imperial resident. “It’s unique in every way and the amount of vegetables displayed is just amazing.”
Holtville’s Citizen of the Year, Julie Velasco, rode the parade route in a 1951 Willys military Jeep. Velasco said she was honored to have been selected.
Just under 80 participants from around the Imperial Valley partook in the annual parade that winds through downtown streets, including local school bands, drill teams, vintage vehicles and floats.
California Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia, 56th District, has participated in the festival for decades, and this year was no exception.
“I have been attending this festival for 20 years or so,” said Garcia. “My grandfather, who is 101 years old, lives across the street from the ball field, so I have been coming out here since I was a kid. Participating in the parade and festival was always something fun for me to do and participating now in the parade is special and exciting.”
“This is a big event for the city of Holtville. It’s the carrot capital of the world and one of their signature events along with the rib cook-off. This is when the community comes together and the local organizations, schools and children. We all come out here and celebrate the neat things students will be displaying today, whether it be cheerleading, marching band and baseball and football teams, it’s neat to be able to support them.”
Following the parade, families made their way down to Holt Park where local vendors sold various foods, jewelry, clothing, house décor and an array of items. Children enjoyed a large variety of rides while others attended the art exhibit.
“My children really enjoy coming here every year,” said Carla Silva. “They really enjoy this festival. There’s so much to see and do that by the time we get to the car, they are exhausted.”[envira-gallery id=”71919″]