Some of the press reports from around the time of the Holtville 60th Annual Carrot Festival

Holtville Tribune, Valley Progress and Imperial Valley News

"Carrot Personalities" Coming For The Parade

Quentin Burke

Three internationally recognized "Carrot Personalities", including a pink-haired carrot tattooed lady, are to visit the 60th annual Carrot Festival in Holtville and feature in the Parade on Saturday, February 10.
Members of the trio, who have dubbed themselves "The Carrot Road Warriors", hail from England, Cleveland and Los Angeles.
Travelling the furthest is John Stolarczyk, of Bradford, England, who is the curator of the virtual World Carrot Museum. The Museum is located at It contains over 130 pages of carrot information and pictures, ranging from the ancient emigration of carrots from Afghanistan to the western world, to an explanation of why carrots often "sparkle" in a microwave oven because of the healthful dose of micronutrient minerals they contain. He'll add some 5500 miles to his frequent flyer account with this pilgrimage to the Carrot Capital.
Next furthest in travel distance is Jeff Chiplis. Jeff is no newcomer to Holtville, having featured at the 1989 Carrot Festival, where he was honorary marshal of the Finley School contingent in the parade, marching with several hundred youngsters, may of whom he also visited in their classrooms. He also set up a display of hundreds of carrot bags from his collection of thousands in City Hall. That collection has grown to over 10,000 items.

Third on the list is the vivacious Michele Hewitt, the "Carrot Tattooed Lady". She of the pink hair ("I can't get it orange") Ms. Hewitt has a fine bunch of carrots on her tummy, another on her back, and sundry carrots in other places. All, naturally, are green tops. She also has a big collection of carrot ceramics and other doodads at her Los Angeles home.
"We're going to take Michele out to a carrot field where green-tops are being harvested, so she can do a color check on her carrots," quipped Quentin Burke, co-owner with his wife Ellen, of the Quellen Company in Holtville, The couple is sponsoring the visit of the three "Warriors", and are readying their pickup truck for the trio to ride in the Parade.
The 60th Annual Carrot Festival Parade will feature bands, marching groups, floats and mounted entries. It will move off at 10 a.m. westward on Fifth Street in Holtville on Saturday morning, February 10. The Festival also features a midway, carrot recipe contest and a youth art show. Final event will be the Dia de la Familia on Sunday, February 11. Chiplis, a judge at the 1989 Cookery Contest, will be one of the judges at the "Dia."
The three visitors are expected to arrive in the early evening of Friday, February 9, in time to participate in the "tasting" which will follow the final event of the Carrot Recipe Contest. Local cooks may wish to discuss with Stolarczyk the history of the carrot cake, which reportedly goes back to mediaeval times, when sugar was scarce and expensive and carrots were the cheapest, sweetest alternative.
Of Polish heritage, Stolarczyk worked for 35 years for the Bradford Metropolitan Council before taking early retirement. He is 56 years old and a member of a Veggie Gang that travels to schools promoting healthy eating. In this role, he goes dressed as "Colin the Carrot". With a degree in business administration, he was a specialist in "Legal and Democratic Services" (Britspeak for election issues) for the Council. He still does consulting work on absentee ballots and helps train poll workers.
In addition to carrots, his interests include the great outdoors, where he likes to hike in the Yorkshire hills, and environmental issues like recycling. John's wife Sharron is an archaeologist, and helps test carrot recipes for the carrotmuseum website. Daughter Elizabeth, a college student in fine arts, helps with graphics and design at the website, too. The website idea started after travels with his family around English museums and castles revealed a lot of wonderful collections but none focused on carrots.
Over and above his carrot collection, which he started some 25 years ago, Chiplis' has a valid claim to artistic fame with his "neon sculptures." Mostly fashioned from discarded and recycled advertising signs, Chiplis' neon tubing sculptures have found their way into art galleries and have been critically acclaimed.
The latter requires hunting down derelict businesses for abandoned signs, retrieving the tubes and the electric’s, and re-assembling bits and pieces of signs as artwork. The assemblages can be turned "on" to glow, just like a regular neon sign.
Chiplis' carrot bag collection was seen on Public Broadcasting prior to its visit to Holtville in 1989. The narrator took viewers through Jeff's apartment, which includes items like carrot ceramics, comic books, toys, cartoons, tee shirts, kitchen tools, a carrot juicer and a wall display of hundreds of carrot bags. His latest estimate is that there are over 10,000 items in his collection.
The biggest sub-group are the carrot bags, which, as he explains, are compact, inexpensive to collect, and come in a wide variety of designs. The designs include such personalities as farmers' daughter, cartoon characters, bunny rabbit motifs, plus a lot of puns on gold and diamond 'carat" value. Also in his collection is a "Thor" brand carrot bag from Holtville in the '50s, given him by the Thornburg family on his 1989 visit. He's looking forward to his 2007 visit. "Pretty cold in Cleveland right now," he says.
Ms. Hewitt explained that she wears her hair pink because she can't get it dyed a suitable orange. She adds that although she wanted orange hair and couldn't get it, she gave birth to a son who has naturally orange hair!
She doesn't remember much about carrots until a visit to France as a youngster found her in the countryside and out of the "concrete jungle." There were carrots there. "You pull it up and, poof! There it is," she says, remembering that remarkable day in France when she saw carrots "au naturel." While shopping as a teenager back home in L.A. she saw a carrot dish and bought it, starting her on her way to a carrotabilia collection of over 1,000 items and counting.
The collection includes carrot flower pots, carrot wall hangings, carrot drinking glasses, a carrot windsock and on and on, plus her favorite, a carrot CD holder. The strangest item is a carrot condom from Germany!
Carrots naturally feature in her diet. Her favorite dish is to cook up matchstick carrots sauteed in butter, brandy and brown sugar. But fresh, raw and orange and right out of the ground is what she likes best.

Holtville Carrot Festival Kicks Off Tonight

Steve Larson

The 60th Annual Holtville Carrot Festival gets under way this evening, with the selection of a new Citizen of the Year and a Carrot Festival Royal Court.
There are five nominees for Citizen of the Year. they are David Strong, Mike Johnson, Ruth Chambers and the late Joel Chambers, Elvira and Enrique Alvarado and Ben and Judy Abatti.
Last year’s citizen was Scott Hester who was presented the award posthumously after he passed away in an untimely airplane accident.
The Citizen of the Year is selected by a committee made up of Chamber of Commerce members and selected based on outstanding contributions to the community throughout an individual or couple’s lives.
Past Citizens of the Year have included Kevin and Kim Grizzle, Joe Muller, Margie Stacey, Angie Garcia and Roy and Marion Schaffner.
Each candidate will be recognized during the banquet at the Barbara Worth Country Club. Dinner is set to begin at 7 p.m. with the program to start at 8 p.m. Tickets are available through the Chamber of commerce for $25.00 each. Or they can be purchased at the door. HOLTVILLE’S CARROT FESTIVAL QUEEN for 2007 will carry on a tradition which dates back to 1947.
The first Carrot Festival Queen, Charlotte Johnston, will act as Grand Marshal for the Carrot Festival Parade scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 10, 2007 at 10 a.m.
There are 14 candidates for the three Royalty positions: The Carrot Festival Queen, The Carrot Festival Princess and the Carrot Festival Junior Princess.
There are three Queen candidates, three princess candidates and eight Junior Princess candidates. (See the candidate profiles elsewhere in this edition of the Holtville Tribune.).
They will pass out ribbons and preside over all the Carrot Festival activities during the week.
Last year’s royalty will be on hand to pass out the crowns to this year’s winners. They are Queen Maggie Zhu, Princess Caitlyn Lerma and Junior Princess Mallory Merten.
Saturday will mark the return of the Carrot Festival Golf Tournament which is played at the Barbara Worth Golf Resort. About 100 golfers will tee it up for cash and prizes in a scramble format.
Not only will they get to play golf and get use of a cart, they will get lunch afterward to go along with the prizes. Registrations at 7 a.m. at the golf course and play is scheduled to begin at 8 a.m.
The weekend wouldn’t be complete without a little barbecue.
The Holtville Rotary Club wills stage its annual Super Bowl Barbecue on Sunday, Feb. 4th. It will give everyone a chance to get some good home cooking before the game, which is scheduled to start at 3:20 p.m. The barbecue will take place form 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. there will be drive-thru service and if you want to eat in the park you can do that too.
It will be held in Holt Park behind the Civic Center, just off Holt Avenue. Order early and have something to much on during the game.
THE CARROT COOKING CONTESTS will begin Monday evening at 6 p.m. at the Civic Center. Each night will bring together a new age group and event leading up to the Sweepstakes on Friday, Feb. 9th. That night the overall winner will be chosen from the winners of each event. There will be children’s events, snowbird events and specialty events each evening. A complete schedule of cooking contests appears in this issue on Page eight.
The Cooking Contests are put on each year by the Holtville Soroptimists Club and its members.
THE CARROT FESTIVAL MILE will also take place Saturday before the big parade. It starts at Fifth Street in front of Holt Park and the races go east down the street. A 5K run will precede the other events which take in several mile races and a relay for all participants. Cash prizes will be awarded to the top finisher’s, as well as trophies and ribbons.
Saturday is the big day for the parade down Fifth street, the arts and crafts show, the food booths and the bargain booths all located in Holt Park. You can find plenty to eat and plenty of unusual items to look at too.
In addition, The Carrot Festival Carnival sets up on Sixth Street this year immediately adjacent to the park. It will make it easier for children and adults to enjoy the carnival and the park activities without crossing the street.
On Sunday the Dia De Familia will take place in Holt Park. It’s a chance for families to try out their special recipes and a chance for the public to sample some of the best cooking in the Southwest. Come early and bring your appetite.
There will be prizes awarded for the best food and best booth as well as a return of many of the arts and crafts show booths. More information is available by calling the Chamber at 356-2923.

'07 Carrot Parade may be the best yet


Spectators at Saturday’s Carrot Festival parade are in for a real treat. This year’s parade will include the most floats entered in many years, and high school bands from three other cities in the Imperial Valley have made plans to participate.

Floats are being built by at least three of the classes at Holtville High School, along with entries from several church groups, youth groups and service clubs. This year’s theme is 60 Years Of Treasured Memories, and it is evidently proving to be easy one to create a float for.

Bands expected this Saturday include those from Brawley, Imperial and Calexico high schools. The Holtville High School Viking Band of Pride will be leading them all in the first division.
There will also be a trio of interesting guests in the parade. Quentin and Ellen Burke are hosting John Stolarczyk, Jeff Chiplis and Michele Hewitt.
All have claims to fame, thanks to Holtville’s favorite friend, the carrot.

Stolarczyk is curator of the virtual World Carrot Museum at The site is seen as the definitive source for all things carrot. He will be visiting Holtville all the way from England.

Chiplis is making a return engagement. He was here for the festival in 1989 to display his carrot bag collection, which has now reportedly grown to exceed 10,000 items.

Hewitt is known as the "Carrot Tattooed Lady.” She is a big fan of carrots and associated memorabilia, as evidenced by the several carrot tattoos she has scattered over her body.

The parade gets underway at 10:00 a.m. and will move down Fifth Street from Maple to Cedar. Large numbers of children from Finley, Pine and local preschools will also be taking part, and their parents will be able to pick them up at the end of the parade route in the 500 block of Cedar Avenue.

Residents who arrive early to get good seats will be able to catch some of the races that begin at 7:00 a.m. Divisions have been set up for different age groups and levels of competition, with mile, 5K and relay races planned. The event is being hosted again by the Holtville High School cross country team and coach David Strong.

Anyone interested in competing should be there at 6:30 a.m. for registration.

Saturday morning’s events will be followed by the arts and crafts fair in Holt Park, the student art show in the Civic Center and the antique car and tractor show on Holt Avenue. The carnival midway will also be opening as soon as the parade is over.
There will be a variety of entertainment acts showing off their talent in the gazebo on both Saturday and Sunday. To draw a crowd on Sunday, the second annual El Dia De La Familia family cook-off will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. More than a dozen teams are already entered, and they will be competing for a top prize of $1,000. Second and third place awards will also be given out, although the amount of prize money hasn’t been determined yet.

Attendees will be able to taste quite an assortment of favorite local dishes, with tickets being on sale for a dollar a sample. Last year’s cook-off turned out to be a nice way for everyone to wind down from a busy week-long festival.

Holtville Carrot Parade celebrated by thousands

By JONATHAN DALE, Staff Writer
Sunday, February 11, 2007 12:55 AM PST

HOLTVILLE — Amid the bright orange of hundreds of free carrots and the smell of fish tacos came the sounds of mariachi horns and high school bands, as the Imperial Valley celebrated the 60th annual Holtville Carrot Festival Parade on Saturday.

Thousands of spectators began lining Fifth Street as early as 8 a.m. Saturday in the hopes of getting a good view of the 105 floats and other assorted entries assembled to remember “60 Years of Treasured Memories,” the theme of this year’s festival parade.

“It’s awesome,” Manuel Nuñez, Holtville Chamber of Commerce president, said of the 60th anniversary. “It’s a lot of fun.”

Struggling to be heard over the cheers and applause accompanying each entry, Nuñez said he was glad so many showed up to celebrate the event, as it’s the goal of city leaders to continuing making the gala inclusive to the entire Valley.

“It’s to bring the whole Valley together, to have everybody over and enjoy the city of Holtville,” Nuñez said. “It’s a Valleywide event.”

With a heavily condensed crowd looking on, everything from trailer beds full of Finley Elementary students to low-riding hot rods could be seen traversing the half mile between Maple and Cedar avenues, as hundreds entered the parade to lend their smiles and waves.

Saddled between Cattle Call royalty and the self-proclaimed Carrot Road Warriors were members of the Holtville High cheerleading squad, their green uniforms contrasting sharply with the red fire engine they had perched themselves on.

“I hope (people) had fun, because I think that’s what the festival is all about,” 17-year-old Holtville High cheerleading captain Lashae Shawver said. “I hope they get to meet new people, too.”

Lashae said she couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate the history and identity of this small but thriving agricultural city.

“Since we are the carrot capital of the world, I think this really symbolizes our town,” she said.

Even for those few who don’t enjoy a good parade, a veritable marketplace and carnival filled Holt Park as the procession passed by, providing plenty to do for those attending the event.

“I like it because you get to spend time with your family, and I don’t get to see them a lot,” 15-year-old Julian Rodriguez, a Holtville native who now lives in Las Vegas, said.

“It’s pretty great,” 13-year-old Oscar Padilla of Holtville said. “It keeps us entertained.”


Personalities cruise through city

By JONATHAN DALE, Staff Writer
Sunday, February 11, 2007 12:54 AM PST
HOLTVILLE — Sporting a pink bikini, pink hair and more than 30 carrots tattooed on her body, it’s safe to say Michele Hewitt left one of the more lasting impressions at the 60th annual Holtville Carrot Parade on Saturday.

“It’s great; the people here are wonderful,” Hewitt, of Los Angeles, said.

Hewitt, who has three tattoos comprised of 31 carrots on her body, was one of three internationally recognized carrot “dignitaries” who flew to the Imperial Valley this week to lend their unique selves to the day’s events.

The three call themselves the “Carrot Road Warriors.”

“Carrots are beautiful and vibrant, and they represent a symbol of leading people,” Hewitt said. “It’s fun to be here with my comrades.”

The comrades she spoke of were fellow carrot fanatics Jeff Chiplis of Cleveland and John Stolarczyk, who hails from Bradford, England.

“It’s good to see all the community get out and be involved together because Holtville is the carrot capital of the world,” Stolarczyk, who runs the virtual World Carrot Museum at, said.Via his Web site — which contains nearly 150 pages of carrot information and pictures — Stolarczyk strives to keep track of the carrot industry and carrot events around the world. He pledged Saturday to devote plenty of space in detailing his time spent in Holtville this weekend.

“(The festival) is a whole new 10 pages of Web site for me,” Stolarczyk said. “I’ll have to have this festival as a separate section for the museum.”

Chiplis’ claim to fame is that he has collected plastic carrot bags since 1974, compiling as many as 1,000 different bags over three decades.

Adorned with a pair of carrot boxers pulled over his pants, Chiplis has seen the Holtville Carrot Festival before, when he was grand marshal in 1989. A lot has changed, he said, in the past 18 years.

“There are definitely more people involved this time around,” Chiplis said. “Being that this is the 60th year, it’s kind of a monumental event.”


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