By Christine Bryant
It’s a special year for the Reynoldsburg Tomato Festival, which will mark 50 years this summer.
Organizers are busy preparing for the event, which draws thousands to Huber Park to celebrate the birthplace of the commercial tomato.
This year’s festival will take place from 4 to 10 p.m. Aug. 14 and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Aug. 15, and will include several new attractions and additional entertainment to celebrate the 50th anniversary.
Mary Hudson, director of the Reynoldsburg Visitors Bureau, said residents should start preparing now for several contests that will take place during the festival.
A popular competition each year, the Tomato Contest is an opportunity for residents to show off their green thumbs by entering categories such as largest and smallest tomato, tallest tomato vine, best tomato-based dessert and bread, and best mild and hot salsa. Entry forms are available online at reynoldsburgtomatofestival.org or by contacting Hudson at (614) 866-4888 or Chuck Cochran at (614) 580-7218.
New this year, the Queen Contest will be held at 6 p.m. Aug. 14. Normally, the competition is held on the Saturday of the festival, but Hudson said this year’s event will feature the contest on Friday.
“We moved the contest so that the queen can reign over the entire festival,” she said.
High school students entering the 11th or 12th grade for the 2015-16 school year who live in the Reynoldsburg City School District are eligible. The queen will travel throughout the neighboring communities and represent the city and festival.
Nominees for the Little Princess Contest also are needed, Hudson said. Girls entering second grade for the 2015-16 school year attending a Reynoldsburg City School or living in the school district are eligible.
Applications for both are available on the festival’s web page, Hudson said.
“We are also looking for volunteers for all areas,” she said. “Our volunteer training is Aug. 1 at the police department from 10 to 11 a.m. and 1 to 2 p.m.”
The Reynoldsburg Police Department is located at 7342 E. Main St. To register, volunteers should email Cochran at firstname.lastname@example.org.
While favorites such as the pizza taste-off and car show will return, the festival will welcome new events as well. This includes a spaghetti eating contest, hot air balloon tethered rides and additions to the beer garden like karaoke and cornhole. A 50th anniversary commemorative souvenir mug also will be available for purchase.
Those who visit the festival for the bands will enjoy seeing double the amount of entertainment this year, Hudson said. Performances on Saturday alone include Postal Jammin’ Guys, 88 Keys Music Studio & Rock Academy of Ohio, Cliff Cody and McGuffey Lane. The Jack is scheduled to perform on the Friday evening of the festival.
“There are lots of fun opportunities for our special 50th anniversary,” Hudson said.
Read more about the upcoming Reynoldsburg Tomato Festival in the Eastside Messenger in the July 12 edition.