The 13th annual Tomato Festival at the Lawton Farmers Market is approaching. It’s happening on Saturday, July 13th.

“Why tomatoes? Well, we like to highlight the tomato because it’s one of those things that’s really southwest Oklahoma,” said Dr. Ed Legako.

He said tomatoes grow well in this part of the state, and people always ask for them when they go to the farmer’s market.

Legako said one of their more popular contests at the festival is the salsa contest.

“People will need to bring salsa by the market on Thursday and Friday, the day before,” he said. “So we can get all the salsa together, and then we have a salsa judging contest.”

It doesn’t matter if you have one tomato plant or more than a hundred – anybody is allowed to enter the different categories they have.

“It seems like after COVID, people started raising a little bit more at their homes,” Legako said. “So we’re starting to see people have two or three or four tomato plants, and we want people to bring those tomatoes in and get a cash prize for who has the best-tasting tomato.”

They also have entries for largest, prettiest, and ugliest.

“One gentleman always wins ugliest,” he said. “I don’t know how he does it, but he says: ‘Are we going to have it this year?’ and I say: ‘Yes, we’re going to have an ugliest tomato.’ The biggest tomato has gotten to be popular, but we only get a few tomatoes, and last year, it was a little over two pounds that won the largest tomato by weight.”

Legako said their goal for this event is to encourage people to eat fresh, local vegetables.

“So learning, buying, eating healthy, that’s our goal,” he said. “To get people out, to get people coming to the market, and hopefully, they’ll be lifelong customers of the market. To come and find local food grown by local people.”

If you don’t have a tomato plant, you can still go to the festival and look at all the different ones entered into the categories mentioned. If you want to enter a tomato, they’ll need to be brought to the market on Saturday no later than 9 a.m.

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