“It is really just a fun way to get the vendors and community excited about the Cartersville Farmer’s Market,” Cartersville DDA Manager Tara Currier said. “Community Health Network came up with and implemented the event last year, and it was very well received. When Catherine Woods began planning events and activities for the farmer’s market this season, she thought the Tomato Festival seemed like a fun, creative event for vendors and shoppers alike to enjoy.
“It’s a great way for the farmers to show off their hard work and entice people to the Cartersville Farmer’s Market. I hope that the public not only has fun voting on the tomatoes, enjoying kids’ activities and meeting … Commissioner [of Agriculture Gary W. Black], but get to view — and hopefully purchase — all the other great produce, craft items, flowers and more that are available at the market.”
During the festival, which will begin at 10 a.m. at Founder’s Oak Park across from Cartersville City Hall, the community will have the opportunity to sample the participating vendors’ tomatoes and cast their vote for the tastiest, most vibrant colored, ugliest and largest tomatoes. The winners will be announced by Black at 11 a.m.
“As commissioner of agriculture, Gary Black has been a tremendous champion of supporting family farms and local farmer’s markets throughout the state,” Bartow County Extension Coordinator Paul Pugliese said. “His support and efforts in this arena are evident in the revamping of the Georgia Grown marketing program. Commissioner Black will be a guest judge for the Tomato Festival contest and will be awarding prizes for our winners. This is also an opportunity for our local farmers to meet the Georgia commissioner of agriculture in person.”
Started in the early 1980s, the Cartersville Farmer’s Market was spearheaded by the late Bartow County Extension Agent Walter Culverhouse to help local farmers sell their excess produce. Overseen by the Cartersville DDA and the Bartow County Extension Office, the Cartersville Farmer’s Market operates Wednesdays, 5 to 8 p.m., and Saturdays, 7 a.m. to noon, through Sept. 27 at Founder’s Oak Park on North Public Square. To help cover some of the market’s promotional expenses, vendors were required to purchase a permit to sell their wares.
Due to rainy weather over the past few months, Pugliese said many farmers had to delay the planting of some of their crops, including tomatoes.
“Most field grown tomato varieties are starting to reach full maturity by mid-July,” Pugliese said. “Even though we don’t have the surplus rainfall that we had last spring, it’s still been a challenge for local farmers to plant their vegetables and harvest with so many rainy days. Many vegetables were delayed from early planting due to wet field conditions. Also, having so many cloudy and rainy days has slowed the maturity of certain crops such as okra, peppers and tomatoes.
“… The Tomato Festival is a way of promoting the Cartersville Farmer’s Market and bringing people out to the market for an event. It’s a great opportunity to engage consumers with the market vendors and learn more about the variety of tomatoes and other vegetables that are locally grown. Along with other events and activities throughout the market season, we hope that this will introduce new people to the downtown area and showcase the diversity of our thriving local farmer’s market.”
For more information about the Cartersville Farmer’s Market, call 770-607-3480 or visit its Facebook page, Facebook.com/cartersvillefarmersmarket.