Slow Food Columbia is one of 200+ Slow Food USA chapters, located in Columbia, South Carolina. Our mission is to support the movement behind GOOD, CLEAN and FAIR foodways in the Midlands and beyond. Our convivium hosts workshops, potlucks and other events throughout the year to celebrate local + seasonal flavors; to showcase the culinary talents of our region's chefs, farmers, + artisan producers; to strengthen connections between members of our local food community; and to educate the public about the importance of knowing where your food comes from.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Palmetto Tasty Tomato Festival grows 150% in 2012

Palmetto Tasty Tomato Festival Sees 150% Increase in 2012 Attendance;
Tomato Contest Winners Announced

Approximately 3,000 guests confirmed that ‘maters really do matter at the 3rd Annual Palmetto Tasty Tomato Festival, presented by Slow Food Columbia and Sustainable Midlands on July 15, 2012 at City Roots urban farm in Columbia, South Carolina.

Showing a 150% increase in attendance from the 2011 festival, the 2012 crowd stretched their legs along Airport Blvd., which was closed for the evening and transformed into an alfresco banquet hall with long, festive tables down the middle of the road. 

Image: Molly Harrell 2012

Over 700 pounds of heirloom tomatoes from Shawn Thackeray’s farm on Wadmalaw Island, SC were served at a complimentary Heirloom Tomato Taste Test, where attendees could compare bites of conventionally grown tomatoes next to luscious, flavorful varieties like Red and Yellow Brandywine, Cherokee Purple, German Striper, Homestead, Yellow Teardrop and more. 

Another 400 pounds of commercially grown tomatoes were turned into free range chicken feed and compost after guests lobbed them skyward at Chuck the Commercial Tomato Skee-Ball or chomped the red fruits underwater at one of two Tomato Bobbing stations. 

Image: Jonathan Sharpe 2012

Kids and adults of all ages enjoyed live music from The Plowboys, Jahson and the Natty Vibez, Buck Stanley, and Prettier Than Matt, with DJ sets by Scott Padgett, booked by Steve Gibson of House of Cards Entertainment and mixed by Jay Matheson of The Jam Room Recording Studio. 

Kids enjoyed a spirited tomato bobbing contest at the Bud Stage with color commentary by Tom Hall of Mardi Gras Columbia. Guests browsed the 3-D city guide to the Midlands sustainable food scene in the Faces of Local Food tent, self-toured City Roots urban sustainable farm; and talked with reps from the Carolina Farm Stewards Association, in town from Pittsboro, NC.

At the festival, Sustainable Midlands announced the winners of the 3rd Annual Tasty Tomato Contest. Gardeners from all over the Midlands submitted 115 tomato entries in 7 categories, with a broad showing of over 60 different tomato varieties in an amazing array of shapes, sizes and colors, from popular heirlooms like “Cherokee Purple” to rare breeds like “Peche Jaune.” 
2012 Tasty Tomato Contest Winners:

Category: Best Small Tomato
1st Place: Mint Produce, variety 'Sungold'
2nd Place: Andrew Warthen, variety  'Sweet One Hundred'

Category: Best Big Red Tomato
1st Place: Benji Hicks, variety 'Mortgage Lifter'
2ndPlace: Catherine Sale, variety 'Red Delicious'

Category: Best Big Purple Tomato
1st Place: Gayle Boyer, variety 'Cherokee Purple'
2ndPlace: Brian and Heather Long (Shady Grove Farm), variety 'Cherokee Purple'

Category: Best Tomato Grown by a Child
1st Place: Levi Glass, variety 'Sungold'
2ndPlace: Eliza Davis, variety 'Cherry Zebra'

Category: Best Big Yellow Tomato
1st Mint Produce, variety 'Peche Jaune'
2nd Zac Willoughby, variety 'Jubilee'

Category: Best Unusual Variety
1st Place: Derrick Gunter, variety 'Berkeley Tie Dye'
2nd Brian Long & Heather Lowder of Shady Grove Farm, variety 'Green Zebra'

Category: Best Tomato Grown in a Community/School or Church Garden
1st Place: Breath of Life Lutheran Church of Blythewood, variety 'Cherokee Purple'
2nd Place: USC EcoReps Community Garden 'Sweet Baby Girl' 
First place winners in all seven categories will receive a pair of tickets to the Famously Hot Chef Showdown on October 11, 2012 at the South Carolina State Fair. Second place winners in each category will receive either 5 bags of Mr. Mushroom Compost from Carolina Eastern Warehouse or Sunday Brunch from 302 Artisans. 
Image: Gennifer Carragher 2012

The team of celebrity judges deliberated at a special judging reception on Wednesday, July 11 at 701 Whaley, and winners were sealed until announced at the festival on July 15. Judges were Amanda McNulty, SC ETV’s “Making It Grow;” Andrea Mock, Anchor at WLTX TV; Jennifer McCormick, Whole Foods Columbia; Kevin Brumfield, Rosewood Market and Deli; Lee Ann Kornegay, Tomato Mom and filmmaker; Emile DeFelice, Owner of the All-Local Farmers Market & Caw Caw Creek Pastured Pork; Kristian Niemi, Chef/Owner at Rosso Trattoria Italia; Rodger Winn, Heirloom Tomato Grower; and Tim Peters, Executive Chef at Motor Supply.

Tasty treats abounded at the Palmetto Tasty Tomato Festival 2012, including tomato sandwiches by Rosewood Market, tomato-cucumber-anise popsicles by Chill Out Pops, and other creative dishes by Bone-In Artisan BBQ on Wheels, Pawley’s Mobile Eats, Spotted Salamander and Good Life CafĂ©.  Food vendors as well as Tomato Potluck participants were asked to include at least one sustainably produced ingredient in their offerings.

While the American Harvest Bloody Mary Bar served up signature cocktails with mix by Spotted Salamander, Liquid Assets staff poured beers like summery Widmer Citra and crisp Pinot Grigio by Fetzer earth-friendly winery. Perry’s Lemonades from the All-Local Farmers Market broke records serving fresh-squeezed lemonade on site, and an army of dedicated volunteers enjoyed hospitality provided by Whole Foods Market.  
Contest organizers at Sustainable Midlands extend thanks to Tasty Tomato Contest Sponsors Whole Foods, Richland County Soil & Water Conservation District’s Organic Richland Program and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.
Overall festival sponsorship was provided by the famously hot City of Columbia, SC, Whole Foods, Skirt! Magazine Columbia, Studio Taj graphic design, Budweiser of Columbia, Fetzer earth-friendly winery, American Harvest Organic Spirit, Flock and Rally, The Jam Room Recording Studio, Liquid Assets, The Southern Greenie, Rhett Talbert Graphic Design, Andrew Stinson of WAS Designs, and House of Cards Entertainment.

Image: Forrest Clonts Studio 2012

More photos of the festival are hosted the Palmetto Tasty Tomato Festival page on Facebook:

About Slow Food Columbia
Slow Food Columbia is the Midlands chapter of the international non-profit organization, Slow Food, whose mission is to support "Good, Clean and Fair" foodways in our local communities. Facebook:

About Sustainable Midlands
Sustainable Midlands is a non-partisan, non-profit corporation whose mission is to foster and advocate for sustainable, healthy communities in the Midlands of South Carolina by providing educational resources and facilitating communication among citizens and community leaders.


TWITTER:           @SlowFoodCola @SustainableMid #TastyTomato, #matersmatter


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