When you think of tomatoes, you never think of them as a vegetable to celebrate for a festival. We normally see things like strawberries, pumpkins, or even watermelons getting all the love.
Three years ago Sam Fleming, Director of 100 Gardens, changed the way that residents of Charlotte looked at the mostly red food. He brought his homegrown tomato fest to the city and it also doubles as a fundraiser.
“The Homegrown Tomato Festival is the one chance to try a huge spread of backyard tomatoes while supporting 100 Gardens, a nonprofit that teaches aquaponic gardening in 10 local schools,” Fleming told CharlotteFive.
If you haven’t decided on whether to attend this year’s event, we have 3 reasons why you should:
(1) You are supporting a great cause
All proceeds of this event support the efforts of 100 Gardens. This nonprofit teaches students in Charlotte-area schools including — Garinger High, Oakhurst STEAM, and Myers Park High — a hands on approach to nutrition and business. Students even learn how to manage fresh fish and vegetables in their campus greenhouses using a special system called aquaponics.
(2) You can try tomato cocktails from local mixologists.
If you love a great ‘Bloody Mary’ you will definitely want to be in the building for this. Watch as contestants from Haberdish, The Artisan’s Palate, Midwood Country Club, and Crown Station Pub and Coffeehouse compete to win the Critic’s Choice award for the best tomato-themed cocktail around the area.
(3) Watch local gardeners put their best ‘mater’ forward
Everyday backyard gardeners from around the city will enter their prized tomatoes in a competition. While there will be a panel of judges to blindly taste and critique the tomatoes, festival attendees will also have the chance to weigh in on their favorites.
If these reasons weren’t enough, you can also chow down on a Southern classic, the tomato sandwich. Whether you like it dressed up with Duke’s or Miracle Whip, eating a fresh tomato sandwich is something everyone should try once in their life.
This year’s festivities will be held on Saturday from 12-4 p.m. at the Neighborhood Theater (511 East 36th Street). If you would like to attend, you will need to purchase a ticket. They are $10 in advance for adults or $15 the day of, kids 13 and under are free.