July 28, 2010
Coming up: Tomato festival, tastings, competitions, cash prizes

By Allen Pierleoni

Our town is synonymous with tomatoes. We grow them, we prepare them in imaginative ways, we consume them.

If you can't get enough of the tasty fruit, you might plan to participate in two upcoming events, which are cross-marketing with each other:

Town & Country Village shopping center will sponsor the Sacramento Tomato Fest, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 7. A competition is part of it: Bring your tomatoes and judges will pick the largest, smallest and ugliest. Each winner in those three categories will get $500. The tomatoes must be ripe.

For pre-registration, fill out the form at Or register your tomatoes in person by 9:30 a.m. at the center on the day of the contest.

Bonus: The Tomato Fest also will feature a number of local restaurant chefs competing for a trophy and bragging rights as they prepare their best salsa, bruschetta and tomato soup (hot or cold). Samples will be available as long as supplies last.

And: wine-tasting, live music and demonstrations by master gardeners.

For more information: (916) 933-4056.

Also at the Tomato Fest will be a booth with the details on the upcoming eighth annual Homegrown Tomato Challenge, sponsored by NatureSweet Tomatoes and Raley's.

For that one:

To enter the "homegrown tomato skill contest": Between 9 and 11 a.m. on Aug. 21, bring three large or 10 small tomatoes to the tent in the Raley's parking lot at 25025 Blue Ravine Road, Folsom. One entry per household.

The tomatoes will be tested for sugar content, and the finalists' entries will then be tasted and judged. Two grand-prize winners will walk away with $2,500 each; four runners-up will each get $250 in Raley's gift cards.

To enter the "cherry tomato cooking contest": Write a 100- to 200-word essay about "why you love cooking with tomatoes." Do this on the NatureSweet Homegrown Challenge Facebook page. Three entrants will be chosen and notified by Aug. 14.

That trio will cook their dishes at the Aug. 21 event in Folsom, using "a bag of secret ingredient." After the judging, the winner will get $2,500 and the two runners-up will each get $250 in Raley's gift cards.

More information is at (210) 396-3966 and

Call The Bee's Allen Pierleoni at (916) 321-1128.

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