JACKSONVILLE — It’s almost Tomato Fest time again in Jacksonville, and organizers are busy preparing for the annual event.
Tomatoes are painted on windows, and a sign reminds people of the upcoming festival as they enter town. Concrete tomatoes are also displayed at local businesses, some painted in the traditional red and green.
This year’s festivities begin at 9 a.m. June 9 on Commerce and Austin streets in downtown Jacksonville.
Throughout the day, more than 20 events are planned, including a fishing tournament, Kiwanis live auction, gospel concert, salsa contest, aviation open house & fly-in, Texas lottery spinning wheel, Best Home Grown Tomato Contest, an antique car show, Tomato Shoot, farmers market, Tomato Peeling Contest, Tomato Mashing Contest, a Got Talent Contest and the Celebrity Tomato Eating Contest, according to a news release from the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce.
“I think Jacksonville’s heritage and being tomatoes (keep people coming back). Tomatoes are so good,” said Peggy Renfro, president of the chamber. “We have so many variety of vendors that that gives people the opportunity to see different things that they can shop and you can spend a day because it’s for the entire family.”
“We know of a photo club in Palestine that will have a day trip here. We are looking for a variety of pictures through someone else’s lenses that would represent Jacksonville and also the Tomato Fest,” Ms. Renfro said.
She said Tomato Fest also will feature expanded transportation service to and from the event, along with an additional cooling tent. Participants also can purchase Tomato Fest T-shirts and chances for the concrete tomatoes.
In the end, organizers hope the event draws 8,000 or 9,000 people.
“I think just having the farmers here, the vendors and the different tournaments— having a soccer tournament, a tennis tournament, a fishing tournament — it just brings a variety of people where everybody can enjoy (Tomato Fest),” Ms. Renfro said.
“People like to participate in the tomato eating and peeling … We have a great group of volunteers, and we couldn’t do it without sponsors, and businesses are very supportive.”
Local farmer David Claiborne, who is on the Tomato Fest committee, said he’s looking forward to the fried green tomatoes, seeing people he hasn’t seen in awhile and the antique car show.
Admission to Tomato Fest is free.
For more information on the events, contact the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce at 903-586-2217 or 800-376-2217 or visit www.jacksonvilletexas.com.