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Tomatoes are back: Tomato Fest returns for third year

Wichita’s favorite tomatoes are at it again.

Tomato Fest is back on Saturday, July 27, for its third annual event during the Kansas Grown! farmers market, featuring all things tomatoes.

The farmers market will feature booths of all vegetable varieties including sweet corn, melons and, of course, tomatoes. In addition to the market, Tomato Fest will feature fun family-friendly events such as a kids workshop, where each child will be allowed to plant and take home a small tomato plant, a tomato growing competition and tomato-themed food trucks.

Kansas Grown! Inc. is currently Kansas’ largest grower owned farmers market, providing more than 100 vendors and connecting local farmers to shoppers in the community, according to its Facebook page.

Tricia Holmes, Kansas Grown board vice president, said the event will be a fun day of tomatoes for all ages.

“I love the kids tomato workshop — when you see the looks on the kids faces and they get to transplant (their tomato plant),” Holmes said. “It’s just a great way to get them interested in gardening.”

Holmes said around 6,000 to 7,000 people attended Tomato Fest last year, and this year “we’ll be in that range,” pushing 7 thousand, she said.

Additionally, the event will have live music, a live tomato-themed chef demo, and the Tomato Fest mascot, Ms. Roma, will give out free cherry and grape tomatoes and fun tomato recipes to try at home.

The event schedule is as follows:

8 a.m. — Entry for tomato growing contest for the following categories: largest tomato, ugliest tomato, prettiest heirloom, best plate of five large tomatoes of any variety and best plate of 12 cherry or grape tomatoes.

8:30 a.m. — Kids tomato workshop sponsored by Johnson’s Garden Center.

9 a.m. — Live chef demo with a tomato-themed dish featuring Eat Real America co-founder Krista Sanderson. Following the demonstration, Sanderson and Kay Neff from Neff Family Farms will give a seminar with tips on preparing and or cooking tomatoes.

9:30 a.m. — Tomato growing contest judging begins.

The Kansas Grown! Inc.’s farmers market and Tomato Fest begins at 7 a.m. and runs until noon at the Sedgwick County Extension Education Center, 7001 W. 21st St. Admission is free.

For more information visit the Tomato Fest event page.

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