Calling all tomato lovers… if you enjoy fresh home grown tomatoes, then Lawton’s annual tomato festival is the place for you.  A time of celebration, fun competition, and plenty of tasting.

The annual Tomato Festival at the Lawton’s Farmer’s Market draws crowds from surrounding areas. Lawton pediatrician Edward Legako is the President of the Farmers market. He says people are asking for fresh tomatoes as soon as the year starts.

“Everybody likes to raise their own tomatoes. Have their own back yard tomatoes. So when you go out looking for tomato plants, you see so many people buying 2 or 3 tomato plants. Everybody just loves fresh tomatoes.”

He says we grow some great tomatoes in southwest Oklahoma because we have the right conditions for it.

“So the tomato festival has started to highlight the tomato and give the public a chance to learn a little about tomatoes.”

This is the 7th year they’ve had the festival. There are competitions for best in show-which requires 3 tomatoes, best tasting tomato, and the ugliest tomato. Dr. Legako says you don’t have to be an expert farmer to enter, you just have to have grown it yourself.

“People feel they don’t want to participate. Because they raise a few tomatoes at home but they’re afraid to bring them in. We really encourage people to bring them in because we like people to come in and see the different tomatoes that people bring in and the vendors grow, and the different varieties.”

They even have a salsa contest, and Dr. Legako says that’s been the most popular event.

“We’ve been very fortunate that we’ve have so many entries. Salsa is good with everything. And it uses a lot of the products from our market. So things like onions and peppers and tomatoes, it can all be made from things you buy at the market.”

Even if you have no plants to bring, Dr. Legako says the festival is a great way to get out of the house. He says most people shop with their eyes, but when it comes to fresh vegetables, the pretty tomatoes aren’t necessarily the best ones.

“Tomatoes that are ugly, that are not perfect, that have differences in color, that’s the great tasting tomatoes”

To learn more about tomatoes you can head on down to Lawton’s 7th annual tomato festival July 14th from 8 to noon at the Great Plains Coliseum. The Festival is free. However, they do rely on donations to put the festival on. All entries for the competitions should be brought in by 9 that morning to be registered. Judging begins at 9:30, and the awards will be given out at 10:30. If you are entering a salsa, you must bring at least 12 ounces for tasting. They will also be selling this years tomato festival t-shirt at the market. For more information, or to become a sponsor you can call 365-4256.