Samples, music, games this Saturday

Second annual Heirloom Tomato Festival will have plenty to eat, see, do

“This is going to be one absolute blast of a festival,” said organizer Meredith Gremel of this Saturday’s second annual Heirloom Tomato Festival held at Reds on the River from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Businesses throughout downtown are coordinating special pricing and giveaways to go with the ‘Show us your Tomatoes’ theme.

The Heirloom Tomato festival will feature music, events and food under at tent in Red’s parking lot, a marinara contest open to the public, a Little Miss Heirloom pageant for girls under 12 and a wide variety of tomato/harvest-themed fun.

“There aren’t a lot of towns like Rockford anymore,” said Gremel. She referred to the wide variety of shops, the lovely flowers at Peppler Park where hundreds go during the summer for photos, and all the music and festivals that take place here.

The tomato festival idea came from the abundance of the crop. She said Dave Ingraberg farms and Chef Glenn at Reds were commenting on how wonderful yet abundant the tomato is when grown the way nature intended. She said the two decided to have a festival centered on the tomato.

This year there will be heirloom tomato seeds for sale, MSU extension Master Gardeners offering advise, a Red’s sampler offered with ticket purchases, roasted corn, a beer tent and other traditional, harvest time family event. North Kent Service Center will offer a lemonade stand with proceeds to the facility and any left over tomatoes will be donated.

The Festival Line Up includes …

  • 11 a.m. ‐ noon: Dublin Station (
  • Noon: Crowing Little Miss Heirloom Tomato Princess (girls 12 Under ‐ dress in tomato, heirloom, or harvest attire and win a gift certificate to Aunt Candy’s Toy Company!)
  • 12:30 ‐ 2:30 p.m. ‐‐ The Bean Poles (
  • 1 p.m.: Marinara Sauce Contest Judging begins (contestants must drop off their sauce in sealed containers clearly labeled with name, address, phone, email, and recipe at 10 am to Reds kitchen. Prepare enough to serve 10 judges). Top three winners awarded Reds gift certificates.
  • Heirloom Essay Contest winner announced — see www.reds‐ for details.
  • 3 ‐ 4 p.m.: The Moonrays
  • 10 a.m.—4 pm: Kids games and activities, Old Fashioned Lemonade Stand, Beer Tent, free samples, tomatoes and seeds for sale, Reds best heirloom dishes and freshly pulled mozzarella, roasted corn, grilled brats, cool t‐shirts for sale, and much more!

For more information, check out www.reds‐, Reds Facebook Event page, or call Reds at 616.863.8181.

Gremel said the weather is supposed to be wonderful and there are even more things for people of all ages to experience. She urged those who visit to take the time to wander downtown shops and see what specials the merchants offer.

With all the family favorites, Miss Tomato Head decorating, facepainting, sack races and more along with the old-fashioned fun of a free outdoor event, this festival is sure to please.

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The Squire has been Rockford’s free weekly newspaper since 1871. Our loyal readership includes over fifteen thousand homes in the Rockford area, including the affluent Lakes area of Lake Bella Vista, Bostwick Lake and Silver Lake; Belmont, Blythefield, as well as Algoma, Courtland, Cannon and Plainfield Townships. The Squire is distributed through the U.S. Post Office every Thursday. We also deliver to in-town businesses and homes with paper carriers and news stands in our grocery stores and over thirty local shops.