Since 1930, Hadley, a town in Hampshire County Massachusetts, produced nearly 80% of the asparagus in the state of Massachusetts. Collectively, the county also had some of the world’s largest swaths of land dedicated to the green stalk. In celebration of its title as “asparagus capital of the world,” Hadley throws an annual asparagus festival.
You won’t find people more enthusiastic about the vegetable than in the Western Massachusetts town of Hadley! The asparagus festival draws in about 4,500 annual visitors.
Hadley’s annual asparagus festival
So, what exactly happens at an asparagus festival?
80 local vendors make creative dishes with obligatory inclusion of the crop, visitors observe growing and harvesting demonstrations, and there are plenty of fun activations to get kids to eat their greens! Plus, live music and entertainment is a must!
Some past menu items include chilled smoked asparagus in a creamy potato soup, crafted by Sierra Grille in Northampton, MA. Another farm-to-table favorite is the poached monkfish with grilled ramps and asparagus over sunchoke puree with roasted native foraged mushrooms, courtesy of f Esselon Café in Hadley!
Legacy of Hadley as the “asparagus capital of the world”
In the 1930s Hadley’s balanced soil offered the ideal climate to grow asparagus. The crop became so abundant it took on the nickname of “Hadley grass.” During the 1950s, many students would spend their mornings harvesting asparagus before proceeding to class.
The 1970s were a tough time for farmers and locals when a fungus destroyed most of the asparagus crop. Hadley is still recovering from that wipeout to this day, but despite, the asparagus crop is blossoming beautifully, and Hadley is the self-proclaimed “asparagus capital of the world,” responsible for a large part of the global crop distribution.
Other towns in Michigan and California have also tried to take on similar titles, but Hadley remains a leader in agriculture, harvesting some of the best local produce in New England!