FAIRFIELD — Two plump juicy tomatoes and 30 seconds was all it took for Vacaville teen Jessie Campbell to earn $25.
The 14-year-old Vacaville High student bested a handful of other youth in the tomato eating contest at the 23rd annual Tomato Festival on Saturday.
Her mother, Janette Campbell, videotaped the contest. Jessie had hoped for a better finish time. She won last year in about 18 seconds, she thinks.
The freshman said she doesn’t eat the morning of the contest and can tackle the fruit of the vine pretty fast. “My moms says I inhale tomatoes,” she said.
Lily Anderson, 8, gave it her best shot, but couldn’t beat the rapid munch, munch, chew punch of Jessie.
“This is her candy,” mother Sarah Anderson said, opening a tote bag with tomatoes inside.
Tina Henke took home third place in the women’s division. The adult divisions, male and female, had three tomatoes to eat.
“You don’t chew them all the way,” Henke said before the competition. “You leave the juice to swallow with a big chunk of tomato.”
Another tip from Henke: “Keep your eyes closed. You don’t want to get any juice in your eyes,” she said.
Tiffany Anderson went for fried green tomatoes from one of the food vendors. Her aunt used to make them. Anderson said she loves the tart flavor of green tomatoes and was anxious to try them with the accompanying ranch dip.
Dave Parker found a little piece of heaven on earth in Tomato Alley. He walked around the tent, picking up samples, like last year.
He was fairly certain his favorite variety would be the Sun Gold. But he had yet to taste the white brandy wine tomatoes volunteer Bryan Briggs was slicing in the back section of Tomato Alley.
Briggs and other volunteers prepared the many varieties for sampling. It’s a great place to learn a tomato is more than a slice of something that often makes its way onto salads or sandwiches, volunteer Nancy Moore said.
“There’s always a few different ones,” Moore said of the selection.
Famous Creations, which has only been open a short time in downtown Fairfield, introduced the tomato basil cupcake for the festival.
Owner Nicholas Rodriguez starts with a spice cake batter and adds some tomato soup and chopped fresh tomatoes. It’s topped with a cream cheese-basil frosting.
“Everyone who has tasted it, loves it,” he said the creation.
The Tomato Festival continues from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday in downtown Fairfield.
A Sunday worship service is slated at 10 a.m. on the Madison Street Stage.
Reach Amy Maginnis-Honey at 427-6957 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/amaginnisdr.
Tomato Festival schedule for Sunday:
Jefferson Street Stage
Webster Street Stage
Madison Street Stage