Celebrate biggest and best-tasting at Tomato Rally

DANIEL CLIFTON • PICAYUNE EDITOR

TOBEYVILLE — Ah, the tomato. Gardeners, cooks and eaters alike are fascinated by the flavorful, red (as well as other colors) globe. Each spring, gardeners plant millions of the vegetable-like fruit.

Backbone Valley Nursery in Tobeyville is hosting a celebration of the bountiful tomato, and it’s a chance for gardeners to answer two questions: “Who has the best-tasting tomato?” and “Who grows the biggest?”

“Gardeners like to think (their harvest) is the best-tasting, so now we can find out,” said Jessica Robertson of Backbone Valley Nursery. “This is a tomato festival in celebration of all things tomato. If you garden in Texas, you tend to brag about our tomatoes. Now it’s time to see who can earn bragging rights as the best-tasting tomato and the biggest tomato.”

The first Backbone Valley Nursery Tomato Rally is June 21 starting at 10:30 a.m. People can enter their tomatoes that day or June 20 starting at 8 a.m. The entry deadline is 10:30 a.m. June 21. And if you’re holding a tomato contest, you know you have to include a little salsa on the side. So there is a best-tasting salsa contest as well.

But the event is not just for gardeners. Robertson said there will be several activities for everyone to enjoy.

“Jen Cayce (of Noon Spoon Cafe in Marble Falls) is going to hold a cooking demonstration,” Robertson said. Cayce is know for her innovative and great-tasting recipes. “We have a lot of fun with her cooking demonstrations. They’re one of our most popular events out here.”

And there’s something for the kids.

“They can plant pumpkin seeds in one of our workshops,” Robertson said. “If you want pumpkins in time for Halloween, now’s the time to plant the seeds and get them started.”

Those not afraid to get a little messy, should check out the tomato toss. Two people stand across from each other and toss a tomato back and forth, getting farther and farther apart with each successful throw. The event is designed for the kids, but adults are welcome to get in on the act.

Along with the bragging rights of the best-tasting and biggest tomatoes and the best salsa, the festival also will try to answer the question of which tomato variety is, in general, the most flavorable.

“We tend to think the heirloom tomatoes are the best-tasting, but do we really know?” Robertson enquired. “People can come out and taste several varieties and find out.”

So if you are a tomato aficionado or just enjoy a few on your salad or hamburger, you’ll want to join the celebration at Backbone Valley Nursery. And up to the festival, you can earn a tomato buck for every $10 you spend at the nursery. Those tomato bucks are redeemable on purchases made during the festival.

The schedule includes:

  • Entries — 8 a.m. June 20 through 10:30 a.m. June 21 (entry forms available at www.backbonevalleynursery.com)
  • Noon Spoon cooking demo — 10:30 a.m. June 21
  • Tomato tasting — 11 a.m. June 21
  • Judging — begins at noon June 21 with panel of celebrity judges
  • Lunch — noon June 21 and includes free hotdogs. There also will be a refreshment and bake sale with proceeds going to charity.
  • Contest and raffle winners revealed — 1:30 p.m. June 21.
  • Game and other events throughout the day June 21

Backbone Valley Nursery is located at 4201 FM 1980 north of RR 1431 between Marble Falls and Granite Shoals.

daniel@thepicayune.com