All Photos by Garrick Ramirez
March 2018 officially marks Watsonville’s 150th anniversary—a sesquicentennial!—and the town has big plans to celebrate. Although the celebration will continue throughout the year, there’s much to get excited about, lately. The historically agricultural community has become a recent hotbed for independent artists and craft food and drink producers, prompting some to refer to it as the Brooklyn of Santa Cruz County. Below, we share everything you need to know about the upcoming festivities, as well as some ways to enjoy Watsonville’s rich culture and scenic landscape today.
YOUR GUIDE TO THE FESTIVITIES
The City of Watsonville has moved the party online. Watsonville150.org is dynamic, online hub for all things related to the 150th anniversary including an event calendar, historic photo galleries, and an interactive walking tour. Just don’t miss the fun, two-minute video on how Watsonville got its name!
KICK UP YOUR HEELS AT AN ANNIVERSARY EVENT
The City kicks off its 150th on March 30th at 5:30 p.m. with a rollicking birthday party in its downtown plaza with live music, activities, and a massive birthday cake for attendees. On May 12th, the City hosts its first beer and wine stroll which will take place from 12 - 5 p.m. throughout downtown. The City also plans to incorporate the 150th theme into existing annual events, including the Fire in the Sky celebration on the Fourth of July, Day of the Child on Earth Day, Strawberry Festival, and others. Plus, watch for a series of celebratory community concerts in early October 2018.
MARVEL AT HISTORIC PHOTOS
You needn’t be a history buff to appreciate the fascinating, sepia-tinged and Kodachrome photos found on the commemorative site. Thanks to the Pajaro Valley Historical Association, the City has assembled an extensive collection of the town’s street scenes, eateries, and buildings throughout its 150 years. Plus, follow @Watsonville150 on Instagram, and you’ll get a daily snapshot of Watsonville’s past—from Old West style saloons to 1950s diners—pop up in your feed.
SHARE YOUR MEMORIES
The City of Watsonville wants you to share your photos, too! If you have photos and/or memories of growing up or spending time in Watsonville, you’re encouraged to post them at Watsonville150.org. Got to the Memories tab, and you’ll be able to upload personal photos and stories direct to the site.
DO A DAY TRIP
Don’t wait until the next event to celebrate the town’s offerings. If you think Watsonville is comprised solely of agricultural fields, you’re overdue for a visit! The south county town is home to broad sandy beaches, wildlife-filled sloughs, and a thriving craft food and drink scene. Check out the following list of ideas for fun ways to fill a day in Watsonville:
- Take an interactive walking tour of Downtown Watsonville. Download the app from Watsonville150.org and you’ll get historic information about each site you stroll by in real time.
- Create succulent gardens and block-print tea towels while you sip local wine and beer at the Craftbar at Annieglass.
- Dig into organic grub made with veggies straight from the farm at California Grill, a community-oriented eatery that’s owned by a second generation Watsonville farmer.
- Sample fresh juices and sparkling cider at the Martinelli’s Company Store, another venerable Watsonville institution that turns 150 this year!
- Drive a tractor, feed a llama, and immerse yourself in the rich farmland history of the area at the Agricultural History Project.
- Frolic amidst the giant sand dunes at the immensely scenic Sunset State Beach.
Plus, there are exciting new projects on the horizon. Opening this summer, the Watsonville Hangar will feature numerous contemporary food & drink businesses housed inside a converted WWII-era airport hangar and a series of shipping containers. The new development at the Watsonville Airport promises to be a buzzy new dining hub, including such draws as a popular beer garden with outdoor games, a modern coffee shop, and fresh juices and acai bowls with Brazilian vibes.