You can't say there's nothing to do this weekend. (Well, you could, but you'd be lying.) Foodies are going to be racing up and down Highway One as if they were competing in this weekend's Verizon Festival of Speed at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, trying to get back and forth between Cooking for Solutions at the Monterey Bay Aquarium and the 50th Castroville Artichoke Festival. The Rodeo Salinas is a few months away, but you can watch roping and riding (and wrestling!) at the Salinas Valley Fair.

Meanwhile, art fans will mob Devendorf Park in Carmel-by-the-Sea for the Carmel Art Festival. And as if that weren't enough, California State University Monterey Bay is holding its commencement on Saturday, with the Capstone Festival (at which graduating students present their work) on Friday the 15th. It's Monterey County madness!


The practice runs begin at the Verizon Festival of Speed at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca at 7 am; qualifying runs begin at 5:05 pm.

If you see someone standing on a street corner in front of an easel, paintbrush in hand, they're probably painting for the Carmel Art Festival's Plein Air Painting competition. Head over to Devendorf Park to see art already on exhibit, as well as live sculpture demonstrations. Free.

Today the Salinas Valley Fair features roping and wild cow milking, as well as lots of events for children. The Blue Cheese Blues Band will take to the stage tonight for a live show. $7/adults, $6/students ages 13-17, $4 for children 6-12, free for children under 6 and seniors.

Happy birthday, Doc Ricketts! Larry Hosford and his band celebrate the occasion with Ricketts-themed songs at Wave Street Studios in Monterey, hosted by Kalisa Moore. 6-9pm, $10.

Big Sur's Fernwood Resort kicks off a weekend packed with live music with British minimalist female vocalist Scout Niblett and folk-rockers Sean Smith & the Present Moment. 9 pm, $10.


The county's only surfing competition, the Sunshine Freestyle Surfabout, starts at Carmel Beach at 6:30 am. If you want to see excellent displays of on-water daring, this is the place to be. Free. The qualifying runs begin at the Verizon Festival of Speed at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca at 7am. There are two races today; the Mazda MX-5 cup is at 11:25 am, while the KONI Challenge runs from 3pm to 5:30pm.

It's a different kind of running in Salinas, as the Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital holds the Heart and Sole 10K and 5K to raise money to benefit the Children's Miracle Network. $30 for adults, $15 for children under 18. There's also a mile and half-mile run for children ages 5 to 12, which is $10 for participants. The 10K and 5K start at 8:30 am, but arrive at 7:15 am if you haven't registered yet.

If you've got a free $225 ($175 if you're an Aquarium member), make reservations now for the Food & Wine Adventures at Cooking for Solutions; there's still a couple of tours that aren't sold out. Not feeling so flush? The Sustainable Foods Fair at the Aquarium, which has cooking demos and a lecture from Alton Brown, runs from 10am-4pm and is included in the price of admission.

In honor of Doc Ricketts' birthday, the Pacific Biological Laboratories building (the mysterious wooden building next to the InterContinental The Clement on Cannery Row) will be open for tours given by the Cannery Row Foundation. 10am-4pm, $15.

The judging begins at the Carmel Art Festival's Plein Air Painting competition. Go to Devendorf Park to review the competition and bid on art in the silent auction. Live sculpture continues.

Celebrate the humble artichoke at the 50th Castroville Artichoke Festival. Not only are there artichokes prepared in every way, not only is there a farmer's market, not only will you get to tour artichoke fields, not only will local creatives construct sculpture out of artichokes and other produce for your amusement, but there's even live music from The Average White Band, Today Yesterday Tomorrow, and the Johnny Clay Band; a classic car show; and the California Wine Exposition. $8 for adults, $4 for children.

Check out the barrel race and bull riding at the Salinas Valley Fair, as well as children's events. The evening features a Wild Video Dance Party for teens, the Shan Johnson Band, and All Pro Wrestling. $7/adults ages 18-59, $6/students ages 13-17, $5 for seniors 60+, $4 for children 6-12, free for children under 6 and military and dependents with ID cards.

Hahn Estates in Soledad hosts the Santa Lucia Highlands Gala, where 28 wineries will offer their best wines up for tasting. There will also be food and an auction. 2-5pm, $85, call 831.678.2132 to reserve.

Chateau Julien in Carmel Valley holds its release party tonight. Wines will be paired with hors d'oeuvres. 5-7pm, $50.

Fernwood Resort's weekend of music continues with The Hallway Ballers, who sound like vintage Red Hot Chili Peppers crossed with Simon and Garfunkel. No, really. 9pm.


The Sunshine Freestyle Surfabout wraps up today at Carmel Beach. 6:30 am - sunset. Free.

The Verizon Festival of Speed at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca has its final day with some fabulous parade laps and the Ford Mustang Challenge from 10 am to 11 am.

Jaripero, the Mexican Rodeo hits the Salinas Valley Fair today! $7/adults ages 18-59, $6/students ages 13-17, $5 for seniors 60+, $4 for children 6-12, free for children under 6.

Winners in the Carmel Art Festival's Plein Air Painting competition will duke it out in the Quick Draw competition, and the paintings created will be auctioned off while the paint's still wet. Free, but bring some extra cash to buy your own work of art.

Today's parade day at the 50th Castroville Artichoke Festival, plus all the other fun stuff previously mentioned. Los Lobos and Second Wind perform live. $8 for adults, $4 for children. Imagine this being said with a massive echo effect: Monster-MONSTER-MONSTER! trucks explode! into the Salinas Sports Complex at the Monster Jam!!! Noon - 5 pm, $20/adults, $11/children.

You may not think you'd dance outdoors in the middle of the day, but once you hear the California Honeydrops! at the Big Sur River Inn, your booty will not be able to resist the urge to shake. 1pm, free. Acrobats the Tweaksters appear at the Sunset Center in Carmel at 1pm. Tickets are $15 and $20.

White-hot Los Angeles gypsy punks Fishtank Ensemble play at Fernwood Resort tonight. 9pm.


If you can't find something to do on this list, you are one hard to please person! Check out the Monterey County Weekly's online calendar for even more things to do.