The first Heirloom tomato festival drew crowds and helped pack downtown Rockford on Saturday, August 22. In the parking lot of the Promenade, the festival included a salsa contest that tried the taste buds of judges, who had to sample a whopping 34 salsas. Some caused sweat to break out on judges’ faces, but no one dropped out before the tasting was done. “We expected maybe eight entries,” said organizer Meredith Gremel. She said of the judges “I kind of feel sorry
The event featured tomatoes, games and music, and was a kick-off to fundraising by the Rockford High School Youth Initiative, who provided the volunteers for the children’s activities at the festival. Initiative president Shelby Denhof said this year’s project for the community group is to build a Habitat for Humanity home. The undertaking will require raising an amazing $75,000. Denhof said the group hopes to rehab or build from scratch a house right here in Rockford. Prior to the festival, the organization had already raised $850 by holding pop can drives. “We hope to have half raised by January, begin building by February or March and be done by June, “ Denhof stated.
Youth Initiative volunteers helped youngsters with a bag toss, painted faces and helped kids decorate their own heirloom tomatoes to take home. Under a tent Reds offered samples of tomato-based salad, salsa and soup for $2 each. Ingraberg Farm highlighted many varieties of heirloom tomatoes and Earthkeeper Farms was also present with tomatoes. The event was well-attended and organizers were pleased with the turnout. Downtown merchants joined in the fun by offering discounts and deals for those who showed up with tomato-related items. It is planned for the festival to be a yearly event.