By Carolyn Schweitz
There’s nothing quite like going to the local tailgate market in the summer as the delicious vegetables and fruits and beautiful flowers roll in to be purchased. Tailgate markets support the local economy while being immense fun for the customers. One such fun event will take place on Saturday, August 4, from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. as the Henderson County Tailgate Market (HCTGM) celebrates its 14th annual Tomato Festival.
When one thinks of Henderson County, tomatoes do not immediately come to mind. “Henderson County is known for its wonderful variety of apples celebrated with an annual festival,” says Joey Popp, a vendor of four years at the HCTGM. “The county is also a big supplier of fresh tomatoes and we feel they too deserve the spotlight as we celebrate the many varieties.”
Last year, Tomato Festival organizers gave away nearly 800 free tomato sandwiches before running out of bread. Festival organizers anticipate a similar turnout this year of 800 to 1,000 people and aim to hand out free tomato sandwiches to all who want to sample homegrown goodness.
“With around 15,000 known tomato varieties worldwide, flavor, texture and color in this tasty fruit could not be more diverse,” says Karen Blaedow, the NC Extension Horticulture Agent for the Tailgate Market. “I believe people keep coming back to see what new flavors exist as well as to enjoy their tried and true favorites that truly taste like summer.”
The Tomato Festival not only highlights the importance of the crop to the Western North Carolina region, but allows for an engaging experience for all. “This festival has something for every tomato enthusiast and skeptic,” Blaedow adds. “Free tomato sandwiches, live music, sample tastings and a chance to taste test some the recent tomato varieties coming out of the NC State University Breeding program.”
For more information, visit hendersoncountytailgatemarket.com or call 828.697.4891. The Henderson County Tailgate Market is open every Saturday, April through October, and is located at 100 North King Street in Hendersonville.