Festival to have mouths watering

You might as well change Rockford’s name to Festival Town. With a new event taking place this weekend, Rockford has dozens of summertime events to enjoy.

On Saturday, August 22, 2009, Reds on the River in Rockford will be sponsoring the First Annual Heirloom Tomato Festival on the banks of the Rogue River as a way to introduce and expand upon the incredible attributes of heirloom tomatoes … and to have a bit of fun in the process.

An heirloom tomato is one grown from an heirloom plant, an open-pollinated (non-hybrid) cultivar of tomato. Heirloom tomato cultivars can be found in a wide variety of colors, shapes, flavors and sizes, with all kinds of funny names like Big Rainbow, Cherokee Purple, Black Krim and Green Zebra. They may be lumpy and bumpy, but one thing is for sure – they are packed with flavor. One of the reasons heirloom tomatoes are so popular is they are grown from “old seeds” – in other words, they have not cross bred to produce today’s version of the perfect tomato: bright red, no blemishes, and mass produced. In the process of creating the latter, much of tomato flavor has been bred out of them.

Festival activities to include:

• Free tomato taste testing of a variety of Heirlooms, compliments of Ingraberg Farms

• Judging Best of Show by area media personalities and local Rockford leaders (12 noon)

• Salsa contest – attendees are welcome to submit their favorite salsa; winners will receive gift cards to Reds on the River. Salsa judging contest at 1 p.m.—contestants should bring dish to serve eight judges to Reds’ kitchen at 10 am on 8-22. Salsa must be kept properly packaged and labeled with name/phone/email and recipe

• Live music

• New Holland Brewing beer tent on Reds patio

• Food sampling of Reds best heirloom tomato recipes

• Children’s activities

• Seeds and tomatoes for sale

• First annual festival tee shirts for sale

Large tents will be set up in the Promenade of Rockford parking lot adjacent to Reds, so rain or shine, the fun festivities will go on.

Mark your calendar and plan to spend the day in Rockford. Heart of Rockford Business Association members plan to get in on the fun as well, offering. a variety of “old world” prices on specialty items.

Reds on the River is located on the banks of the Rogue River in Rockford, just west of the Frederic Meijer White Pine Trail. This Tuscan-designed upscale casual restaurant serves lunch, dinner, happy hour, and small plates Monday through Saturday. Since opening in August of 2007, Reds accomplishments include:

Best New Restaurant in 2007, Fine Dining Awards (2008, 2009) – Grand Rapids Magazine; #1 Best Outdoor Dining in Michigan (2008, 2009 – OpenTable.com); #3 Best Wine List in Michigan (2008, 2009 – OpenTable.com); #7 Best Overall Michigan restaurant (2008, 2009 – OpenTable.com)

Ingraberg Farms is a third generation organic farm located in Rockford, Michigan. Ingraberg Farms provides produce and herbs to the area’s top restaurants. Every Tuesday, Reds Executive Chef Glenn Forgie walks the fields (or green houses in the winter) with owners Helen and Dave Lundberg and their sons Michael and Jason. The farm was established by Helen’s parents, the Ingrahams.

New Holland Brewing is a microbrew located in Holland, Michigan. During the Festival, New Holland will host a beer tent on Reds expansive outdoor deck overlooking the Rockford dam.

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