The Lawton Farmers Market Annual Tomato Festival is right around the corner, and those growing tomatoes are welcome to enter. Dr. Edward Legako, the president of the Lawton Farmers Market, said about 7 or 8 years ago, they started having different events at the market like dog day and kids day, but he said the whole year rotates around the tomato festival.
“Tomatoes are the one thing that everybody wants when they come to the market, and we really don’t have any other tomato festivals in Oklahoma,” Dr. Legako said. “We originally decided to do a tomato festival, and it’s grown into our biggest event of the year at the Lawton Farmers Market.”
It’s always the weekend after the 4th of July because they’re trying to catch it right when the tomatoes are ready. This year, the festival is on July 10th from 8-12 at the Cameron football field parking lot. This the last year the market expects to have it there as they’re planning to have it at their new location, which is currently under construction. At the festival, there will be multiple contests, including the salsa contest, which is sponsored by Comanche County Memorial Hospital.
“I think everybody wants to think that their salsa is the best salsa that they make at home,” he said. “So we invite them to bring a sample or your salsa in, and we’ll have judges and a cash prize for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd in the salsa contest.”
Along with the salsa contest, there will be judging of homegrown tomatoes in multiple different categories. First, best tasting. Dr. Legako encourages people to bring them in whether they’ve grown 1 or 50 this year.
“It doesn’t make any difference how many tomatoes you grow or what. We’re all amateur. We’re not professionals. Bring in your tomato that you think will be the best tasting, and then we judge to see who the judges think is the best-tasting tomato,” Dr. Legako said. “We also added a largest tomato which has been very popular. It’s been 1-2 pounds that wins the largest tomato. We also have an ugliest tomato, and people have heard me talk saying ugliest tomatoes are the best tasting, but you can get some ugly tomatoes out there, especially if you grow heirloom tomatoes.”
There will also be a contest for best in show and prettiest tomato. They have to be in by 9 that morning because the judging starts at 10. While there are cash prizes, it doesn’t cost anything to enter.
“It would be great if we got 50 people to bring in tomatoes for best tasting,” Dr. Legako said. “The tasters might get tired of tomatoes, but most of the people who are tasting these tomatoes, they’re taster aficionados, they love tomatoes, and they never get tired of tomatoes.”
Dr. Legako said they’ll have Tomato Festival t-shirts for sale at the festival on July 10th. Before the festival on Saturday, there will be an art contest Friday at the Leslie Powell Gallery.