KINGSPORT, Tenn. - Just saying the words "homegrown tomatoes" makes your mouth water. It is the most popular garden crop grown by home gardeners and it will be celebrated this Saturday at the tenth annual Tomato Fest at the Farmers Market in Kingsport.
The one item that you can guarantee everyone will take home from our area farmers markets is tomatoes. Every variety, every size and color are represented.
A celebration of tomatoes is planned for Saturday in Kingsport. They'll be looking for the best tasting, the biggest, the prettiest, ugliest, most bizarre, and of course the best dressed.
Jim Lafollette is not only the farmer's market manager, but a grower as well. His favorites are the heirloom varieties. "Heirloom tomatoes of course go back hundreds of years ago, but they are probably the most popular tomato you can grow. They're good tasting tomatoes. They're usually a big tomato," Lafollette says.
And one of the most popular winners for taste and size at the Tomato Fest these past ten years. He has won a few times. "I've entered every year. I've won the biggest tomato, I've won the ugliest tomato a time or two, I've won the best tasting tomato," he said.
Another multiple winner is Dennis Marshall. He weighs one of his big tomatoes, not quite two pounds and no where near the three-pounder he had one year. But this year his tomato patch has been a little slow. "Slow big time, with the varmints and I don't know if it's the weather or what, tomatoes are slow this year," Marshall said.
He's one of the organizers of the popular festival honoring the tomato. "You can taste probably 35 to 50 different tomatoes and we have a wonderful time. Everybody likes real tomatoes, homegrown tomatoes. You don't have to have an acre to grow a few tomatoes," Marshall says.
But they'll be be way more than just a few at the Tomato Fest.
The event is from 8 until 11 Saturday morning and area cooks are invited to enter the "Best Salsa Contest," which the whole crowd gets to vote on.