17 tomato fest 1

Clarence Carraway, left, scarfs down a tomato during the tomato eating contest at the Tomato Festival in Fairfield, Saturday. The celebration included tomato sampling, a farmer's market and recipe contests. (Aaron Rosenblatt/Daily Republic)


The time is ripe for the 23rd annual Tomato Festival

By From page A1 | August 17, 2014

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 [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/amaginnisdr.

Tomato Festival schedule for Sunday:

Jefferson Street Stage

  • Noon: Tomato costume contest
  • 12:30 p.m.: Tomato eating contest
  • 1:30 p.m.: Danc-Sing Stars Studio
  • 2:30 p.m.: Folklorico dance

Webster Street Stage

  • Noon: Terry Sheets Band
  • 3 p.m.: Rhythm Method 4

Madison Street Stage

  • Noon: The Used Blues Band
  • 2:30: Sapo Guapa
Amy Maginnis-Honey

Amy Maginnis-Honey

Amy Maginnis-Honey joined the staff of the Daily Republic in 1980. She’ll tell you she was only 3 at the time. Over the past three decades she’s done a variety of jobs in the newsroom. Today, she covers arts and entertainment and writes for the Living and news pages.

Discussion | 5 comments

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  • Claire KelleyAugust 17, 2014 - 9:15 am

    We had so much fun cutting those tomatoes for the Tomato festival yesterday. So nice to see a pic of my son Elijah Kelley there as he was the one giving us the various tomatoes to cut. The Fairfield High Basketball team also did a great job being the runners to brought the tomato samples to the main tent!!

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  • A downtown neighborAugust 17, 2014 - 9:35 am

    Your article says the Tomato Festival is supposed to start at 12 noon on Sunday, but a band is playing at 0915 am already, disturbing my peaceful Sunday morning. I walked thru the festival Saturday and notice far fewer people attending than in previous years. Where was the big tent they used to have with tomatoes for tasting? Where was the Fairfield Downtown Association? Who is sponsoring the event this year? I used to see my Empire Street neighbors there but I saw none on Saturday.

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  • Mr. PracticalAugust 17, 2014 - 12:58 pm

    The tent is on the old courthouse lawn, right next to where Tenbrink Farms is selling its gorgeous tomatoes. We saw many of the event volunteers and saw sponsorship on signs, t-shirts, etc... I guess sometimes you only see what you want to see.

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  • another dt neighborAugust 17, 2014 - 2:12 pm

    Given the number of parked cars down here, I would say attendance is pretty good.

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  • Trixie's MomAugust 17, 2014 - 10:26 pm

    A last minute invitation brought me down to the Tomato Festival today; and I enjoyed the event very much. It had been a few years since attending, and I'm glad I had the opportunity to attend today. FYI downton neighbor, the Fairfield Downtown Association is now the Main Street Association. Sponsors were listed along the route, especially at the Jefferson Street Bandstand. Again, a very enjoyable time; even the weather was enjoyable, not blistering hot!

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