July 15, 2015

The 2015 Palmetto Tasty Tomato Festival

Six years ago Master Gardner Ryan Nevius and friends at City Roots gathered for a potluck to taste heirloom tomatoes. With their tomatoes they brought a shared enthusiasm and support for variety in heritage tomato seeds, open pollination, and local farmers. Guests understood the incomparable taste of homegrown! It was a wonderful time, small and intimate, and it’s no wonder that from this magical gathering such an extraordinary seed was born—a seed that has developed strong roots, and has yielded much fruit in Columbia!

That following year Nevius and others turned their memorable potluck into a small tomato festival held on the grounds of City Roots, a certified organic urban sustainable farm in the heart of Columbia. To their surprise, they were swamped with enthusiastic tomato lovers! Large attendance numbers required them to form a waiting line and gradually admit late arrivers as others left. Year after year it continued to grow. Six years later, the event continues to capture the hearts and imaginations of thousands.

Presented and founded by Sustainable Midlands, The Palmetto Tasty Tomato Festival is “a celebration of locally grown food—the people who grow it, the restaurants who place it on their menus, the markets that sell it, and the people who eat it!”

Folks, this will be one fun festival, with something special for everyone! Music lovers will want to visit one of the two music stages where Bryson Jennings, Liz Brennen, Emily Hearn, Palmetto Blue, and Willie Wells and the Blue Ridge Mountain Grass will perform. Festivities also include craft beer and a craft beer garden, a “Show Us Your Tomatoes” photo contest, mouth-watering food from local restaurants, and special tomato-themed foods and drinks like stuffed tomatoes, tomato salads and Conquest Brewing Company’s Tomato Beer. Grownups may want to try a festival Bloody Mary featuring, of course, none other than the star of the festival! At 5:30 PM, the Tap That Keg event will occur. Prefer lemonade? Then you may want to quench your thirst at the fresh-squeezed lemonade stand! If you are a food truck aficionado, then you will love choosing from one of the festival’s food trucks!

There will be many fun and creative games to entertain the kids, including Bean Bag Toss, Face Painting, Tomato Bobbing, Ring toss (age 3 or older), Healthy Food Mural (age 3 or older), Vegetable Bingo (age 3 or older), Giant Kerplunk (age 4 or older), and Hula Hoop Madness (age 4 or older). Parents, this is a great opportunity to reinforce the wonders and worth of fruits and vegetables, local foods and sustainable farming!

New to the festival is “Scrumptious Art” presented by Gallery West and other artists. Festival-goers will find beautiful paintings and hand-crafted items, including ceramics, jewelry, soaps, and much more!

The 2015 Palmetto Tasty Tomato Festival will be held this Saturday, July 16th from 4:00-9:00 PM at City Roots Urban Sustainable Farm located at 1005 Airport Blvd. in Columbia, SC. Tickets can be purchased at Rosewood Market & Deli and Whole Foods Market ($10), online at http://tastytomatofestival.com/festival/tickets/, or at the gate ($15). Children 12 and under are admitted free if accompanied by an adult. The entrance gate is a cash-only gate. For convenience, an ATM will be stationed outside the gate. Handicap parking will be at Gate 1 and handicap-accessible portable toilets will be available inside the gates. Pets are welcome, but shaded areas are limited. Cyclists are encouraged to arrive on bicycles and use the bike corral, or take advantage of free bike valet check-in sponsored by Cycle Center Columbia. Those arriving by car will find open parking in the areas surrounding City Roots.

Included in the ticket price is a chance to taste heirloom tomatoes from 4:00-7:00 PM during the home-grown contest. Heirloom tomato growers bring their finest to be judged! The contest, sponsored by Roger’s Heirlooms (www.RogersHeirlooms.com), is a favorite at the event! You may also want to tour City Roots Urban Sustainable Farm! Personally, I love to buy my fresh lettuce and sprouts at City Roots!

To learn more, find (and “Like”) The Palmetto Tasty Tomato Festival on Facebook, follow them on Twitter and Instagram, or view a few festival promo clips on YouTube.

Kudos to visionary Ryan Nevius and her wonderful team at Sustainable Midlands! We are incredibly fortunate to have this caliber of an event right in our own back yard! To learn more about Sustainable Midlands, go to www.SustainableMidlands.org or call them at 803.381.8747.

Whether you say, “toe-MAY-toe” or I say “toe-MAH-toe,” it matters not! This Saturday afternoon, let’s all put on our walkin’ and dancin’ shoes and head to the 2015 Palmetto Tasty Tomato Festival! To jump-start your day with some fun, you could start out at Soda City Market, then grab lunch or a cold press juice or a smoothie at Good Life Café, peruse the nearby shops, and then re-join the fun at the festival!

Anne Buck for GLC


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