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Juicy and ripe: The 11th annual Tomato Festival swings into town

TOMATO, TOMATO — The 11th annual Tomato Festival will take place this weekend, Aug. 23 – 25, at the Evangola State Park. Tomatoes are judged, each year. Pictured, above, are tomatoes submitted into the 2005 competition. Photo by The Sun.
HAMBURG — It was not until the early 1800s that tomatoes were acceptable to eat. This fruit is a part of the “nightshades” family of plants, which is known for its alkaloid potency and high toxicity.

Then, a resident of New Jersey changed the game.

According to James Goodwin, M.D. and Jean Goodwin, M.D., MPH, in their Journal of American Medicine Association article “The Tomato Effect: The Rejection of Highly Efficacious Therapies,” tomatoes were not always eaten as abundantly as they are today.

It was “not until 1820, when Robert Gibbon Johnson ate a tomato on the steps of the courthouse in Salem, N.J. and survived, did the people of America begin, grudgingly, we suspect, to consume tomatoes,” the authors said.

Now, more than a century later, tomatoes have become a staple in American cuisine.

The Evangola State Park, located in Irving, will host a celebration of these fruits this weekend, during the 11th annual Tomato Festival. The festival will run from Aug. 23 – 25 at the park, located at 10191 Old Lake Shore Road in Irving. The event will include food, crafts, a beer garden and a farmers market. Other activities include a theme auction, the “I Got It!” carnival game and an inflatable midway from A Bouncers Paradise inflatable rentals.

The highlight of the festival will be the tomato contest. Awards for the biggest grown tomato, the best-dressed, a tomato-eating competition and best tomato sauce will be presented.

Live music will also be performed, during each day of the weekend.

The Miss Evangola Pageant will be held from noon – 3 p.m. on Aug. 24. Meanwhile, the car and motorcycle show will be taking place until 4.

The 10th annual Tomato Trot 5K race/walk will take place on Aug. 25, the final day of the festival.

An application is available online; registration will be held from 8 – 8:45 a.m., with the trot’s commencing at 9:45. Trophies will be given to the fastest three men and women in various age divisions.

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