Why a festival in honor of a vegetable, or fruit (if you want to be technical about it)?
“A lot of other themes were taken,” joked Mitch Anderson of the Dorchester County Historical Society, Inc., the organization sponsoring the event. But in all seriousness, he added, “We grow the best tomatoes right here on the Eastern Shore, and especially in this region. Why not tomatoes?”
An informal flea market will kick off the day at the Community Center on Race Street. The festival officially opens at 10 a.m. with the Mayors’ Tomato Challenge Race, with mayors from around the region competing for the honor of being crowned king or queen.
The Timmons Family Bluegrass Band will perform on the Gazebo stage from noon until 4 p.m. The group, which hails from northern Dorchester County, features three- and four-part harmonies.
New this year, the Eastern Shore Dance Academy will be performing a variety of dance including ballet, jazz, hip hop and more.
A variety of children’s games and activities will take place on the tomato fields. Tommyball, badminton and Frisbee golf have been added to the lineup and all will be “pick up!” Other event highlights include the “Peach Pit Spit” and a “tomato war” at 2 p.m. According to Anderson, participants wearing white shirts will throw tomatoes at one another and whoever ends up with the messiest shirt loses.
Nearby vendors of all types will be on hand to sell their wares, including handmade jewelry, scarves, antiques, collectables, hand painted wooden signs, yard art, wax goodies, sea glass art, decoys and art. Meet Tommy the Tomato at the Tasty Tomato Flights and try out four different recipes for $5. Tommy will also be demonstrating how to fry green tomatoes.
Heritage demonstrators include the Heritage Fiber Guild, showcasing its wool and goats, as well as Terry Crannell and a Native American artifact collection, a display of historic items that have been unearthed around the county by local metal detector Tim Webster and more. Area nonprofits will be on hand to share information about their organizations.
At the other end of the venue, the Chicone Ruritan Club will cook up a variety of food items including hamburgers, hot dogs, crab balls and more. Shelley Abbott will provide entertainment for this end. The Welcome Center will offer chances on this year’s Heritage Raffle, which will be drawn at 4 p.m. on the day of the festival. This year’s raffle contains many different things and is held in a 1950s Coca Cola cooler.
For the first time, festival goers will have the opportunity to design and print their own T-shirts. Attendees can even bring a T-shirt and print on it for $5/print. T-shirts whether self designed or already made will be sold for $12 each or 2/$20.
The festival is free to the public and with a family-friendly focus.
“Just come out and enjoy, and fortunately the weather looks like it will hold off to make for a good day,” Anderson said.