Attendance Increases 150% at 2012 Tasty Tomato Festival

Palmetto Tasty Tomato Festival Sees 150% Increase in 2012 Attendance;
Tomato Contest Winners Announced

(Columbia, SC) July 18, 2012 – Approximately 3,000 guests confirmed that ‘maters really do matter at the 3rd Annual Palmetto Tasty Tomato Festival, presented by Slow Food Columbia and Sustainable Midlands on July 15, 2012 at City Roots urban farm in Columbia, South Carolina.

Showing a 150% increase in attendance from the 2011 festival, the 2012 crowd stretched their legs along Airport Blvd., which was closed for the evening and transformed into an alfresco banquet hall with long, festive tables down the middle of the road.

Over 700 pounds of heirloom tomatoes from Shawn Thackeray’s farm on Wadmalaw Island, SC were served at a complimentary Heirloom Tomato Taste Test, where attendees could compare bites of conventionally grown tomatoes next to luscious, flavorful varieties like Red and Yellow Brandywine, Cherokee Purple, German Striper, Homestead, Yellow Teardrop and more. Another 400 pounds of commercially grown tomatoes were turned into free range chicken feed and compost after guests lobbed them skyward at Chuck the Commercial Tomato Skee-Ball or chomped the red fruits underwater at one of two Tomato Bobbing stations.

Kids and adults of all ages enjoyed live music from The Plowboys, Jahson and the Natty Vibez, Buck Stanley, and Prettier Than Matt, with DJ sets by Scott Padgett, booked by Steve Gibson of House of Cards Entertainment and mixed by Jay Matheson of The Jam Room Recording Studio. Kids enjoyed a spirited tomato bobbing contest at the Bud Stage with color commentary by Tom Hall of Mardi Gras Columbia. Guests browsed the 3-D city guide to the Midlands sustainable food scene in the Faces of Local Food tent, self-toured City Roots urban sustainable farm; and talked with reps from the Carolina Farm Stewards Association, in town from Pittsboro, NC.

At the festival, Sustainable Midlands announced the winners of the 3rd Annual Tasty Tomato Contest. Gardeners from all over the Midlands submitted 115 tomato entries in 7 categories, with a broad showing of over 60 different tomato varieties in an amazing array of shapes, sizes and colors, from popular heirlooms like “Cherokee Purple” to rare breeds like “Peche Jaune.”

2012 Tasty Tomato Contest Winners:

Category: Best Small Tomato
1st Place: Mint Produce, variety 'Sungold'
2nd Place: Andrew Warthen, variety  'Sweet One Hundred'

Category: Best Big Red Tomato
1st Place: Benji Hicks, variety 'Mortgage Lifter'
2ndPlace: Catherine Sale, variety 'Red Delicious'

Category: Best Big Purple Tomato
1st Place: Gayle Boyer, variety 'Cherokee Purple'
2ndPlace: Brian and Heather Long (Shady Grove Farm), variety 'Cherokee Purple'

Category: Best Tomato Grown by a Child
1st Place: Levi Glass, variety 'Sungold'
2ndPlace: Eliza Davis, variety 'Cherry Zebra'

Category: Best Big Yellow Tomato
1st Mint Produce, variety 'Peche Jaune'
2nd Zac Willoughby, variety 'Jubilee'

Category: Best Unusual Variety
1st Place: Derrick Gunter, variety 'Berkeley Tie Dye'
2nd Brian Long & Heather Lowder of Shady Grove Farm, variety 'Green Zebra'

Category: Best Tomato Grown in a Community/School or Church Garden
1st Place: Breath of Life Lutheran Church of Blythewood, variety 'Cherokee Purple'
2nd Place: USC EcoReps Community Garden 'Sweet Baby Girl'

First place winners in all seven categories will receive a pair of tickets to the Famously Hot Chef Showdown on October 11, 2012 at the South Carolina State Fair. Second place winners in each category will receive either 5 bags of Mr. Mushroom Compost from Carolina Eastern Warehouse or Sunday Brunch from 302 Artisans.

The team of celebrity judges deliberated at a special judging reception on Wednesday, July 11 at 701 Whaley, and winners were sealed until announced at the festival on July 15. Judges were Amanda McNulty, SC ETV’s “Making It Grow;” Andrea Mock, Anchor at WLTX TV; Jennifer McCormick, Whole Foods Columbia; Kevin Brumfield, Rosewood Market and Deli; Lee Ann Kornegay, Tomato Mom and filmmaker; Emile DeFelice, Owner of the All-Local Farmers Market & Caw Caw Creek Pastured Pork; Kristian Niemi, Chef/Owner at Rosso Trattoria Italia; Rodger Winn, Heirloom Tomato Grower; and Tim Peters, Executive Chef at Motor Supply.

Tasty treats abounded at the Palmetto Tasty Tomato Festival 2012, including tomato sandwiches by Rosewood Market, tomato-cucumber-anise popsicles by Chill Out Pops, and other creative dishes by Bone-In Artisan BBQ on Wheels, Pawley’s Mobile Eats, Spotted Salamander and Good Life CafĂ©.  Food vendors as well as Tomato Potluck participants were asked to include at least one sustainably produced ingredient in their offerings.

While the American Harvest Bloody Mary Bar served up signature cocktails with mix by Spotted Salamander, Liquid Assets staff poured beers like summery Widmer Citra and crisp Pinot Grigio by Fetzer earth-friendly winery. Perry’s Lemonades from the All-Local Farmers Market broke records serving fresh-squeezed lemonade on site, and an army of dedicated volunteers enjoyed hospitality provided by Whole Foods Market. 

Contest organizers at Sustainable Midlands extend thanks to Tasty Tomato Contest Sponsors Whole Foods, Richland County Soil & Water Conservation District’s Organic Richland Program and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Overall festival sponsorship was provided by the famously hot City of Columbia, SC, Whole Foods, Skirt! Magazine Columbia, Studio Taj graphic design, Budweiser of Columbia, Fetzer earth-friendly winery, American Harvest Organic Spirit, Flock and Rally, The Jam Room Recording Studio, Liquid Assets, The Southern Greenie, Rhett Talbert Graphic Design, Andrew Stinson of WAS Designs, and House of Cards Entertainment.

As they come in, photos of the festival will be added the Palmetto Tasty Tomato Festival page on Facebook:

About Slow Food Columbia
Slow Food Columbia is the Midlands chapter of the international non-profit organization, Slow Food, whose mission is to support "Good, Clean and Fair" foodways in our local communities. Facebook:

About Sustainable Midlands
Sustainable Midlands is a non-partisan, non-profit corporation whose mission is to foster and advocate for sustainable, healthy communities in the Midlands of South Carolina by providing educational resources and facilitating communication among citizens and community leaders.


TWITTER:           @SlowFoodCola @SustainableMid #TastyTomato, #matersmatter

2012 Tasty Tomato Festival a Delightful Success!

What a great day was had by all! We thought we might have had 2500 people, but we counted it all up, and the number is actually more like 3000 attendees! Pretty darn exciting. Thanks, y'all!

Did you see The State's coverage on the festival, with an article by Carolyn Click and pics by Rob Thompson?

View it here:

Tasty Tomato Contest winners will be posted on the Sustainable Midlands website, so check there for details!

Want to Like Slow Food Columbia on Facebook? Tis easy:

Palmetto Tasty Tomato Festival 2012 - image by Forrest Clonts Studio

See you at the festival!

Online advance ticket sales have ended, but we will have plenty of regular price tickets available when gates open at 5pm. Come down and party with us!
Also? We got 700 lbs of heirloom tomatoes for the tasting! We'll have them for sale, as well.

They're mostly Cherokee Purples, Red and Yellow Brandywines, and German Stripers from the esteemed Shawn Thackeray's farm on Wadmalaw Island, SC.

We also got some pretty Homestead tomatoes from Sumter Organic Co-Op, plus some gorgeous little Yellow Teardrops that are hard to stop tasting, trust us.

See y'all there!

The Palmetto Tasty Tomato Festival
Sunday July 15, 2012
$15 gate
$20 “Supporter” ticket & covered tomato dish w/sustainable ingredient grants access to special VIP tomato potluck at 4pm.
Kids 12/under free with adult

$5 early advance discount $5 and $10 advance discount levels sold out, thank you!

City Roots urban farm
1005 Airport Blvd, Columbia SC 29205
Free parking



-Picnic blanket or camp chairs (only if you feel like it)
-Cash for food + beverage vendors
-Your hot weather party 'tude

We will have two festival entrances: Airport Blvd. at Jim Hamilton Blvd., and Airport Blvd. at Commerce Blvd. Ticketholders may check in at either entrance. See you there!


Airport Blvd. will be CLOSED to all traffic in front of the farm to let us spread out the party, so you have 2 parking options:

1. Park on Commerce Blvd, walk down and use our West entrance. From Rosewood, you can access Commerce Blvd. via Superior Street or South Edisto, to name a couple of routes.

2. Park in the Owens Field soccer lot off of Jim Hamilton, the Memorial Stadium lot (Holly at Airport), or along Airport, Holt, or other neighborhood streets.

NOTE: Handicap accessible parking will be in the Aramark lot at the intersection of Airport Blvd. and Jim Hamilton Blvd.

Restrooms: There will be 6 large, handicap-size port-a-potties on site.

No coolers, please, and no outside alcohol will be permitted.

Festival Merchandise: We will have posters for $3, ice-cold cool scarves for $3, and baskets of fresh heirloom tomatoes for $5.

Potluck ticketholders: try to arrive as close to 4 as possible, as the best selection of yummies will be between 4:15 and 5:30pm if tradition holds. Karen Sundstrom, our potluck manager, will email you some more details. ONLY those who purchased potluck tickets and bring a dish to share will be granted access to the greenhouse where the potluck is being held. Thank you for understanding!

Games are free this year! Tomato bobbing and "Chuck the Commercial Tomato Skee-Ball" will take place in the back field near the berry bushes, free-range chickens and the giant compost mountain. Three dunks per bobbing session and three 'maters per skee ball turn. Kids 12 and under must be with adult.

We will also have an extra session of tomato bobbing at the stage at 5:45pm after the first band, with color commentary by Tom Hall of the Plowboys. All game tomatoes will be fed to City Roots' free-range chickens or used for compost on the farm.

Tomato Contest Winners will be announced at about 6:45 at the stage out front by Sustainable Midlands.

Emergencies -- should a medical emergency or otherwise arise, go to the main, wooden barn where volunteers and staff will be on site to help. Barn is for staff, volunteers and bands only, thank you. We will have Columbia, SC police officers on duty at the event.

Bring blankets and camp chairs, and some hay bales will be available for seating.

4 to 5pm DJ Scott Padgett and between sets til 8:15
5 to 5:45pm Prettier than Matt
5:45pm Tomato bobbing with color commentary by Tom Hall
6 to 6:45pm Buck Stanley
6:45pm Announcement of Tasty Tomato Contest winners
7 to 8:00pm Jahson and the Natty Vibez
8:15 to 9:00pm Tom Hall and the Plowboys

For links to each band's website, visit House of Cards Events' Tasty Tomato Festival page:


Tomato Sandwich bar by Rosewood Market & Deli
Bone-In Artisan BBQ on Wheels food truck
Spotted Salamander Catering booth (tomato hand pies, etc.)
Pawley’s Front Porch food truck (fancy burgers, etc.)
The Good Life Cafe (raw, vegan)
Chill-Out Pops (handmade popsicles w/fresh, seasonal ingredients)
Fresh-squeezed lemonade by Perry’s Lemonades
American Harvest Bloody Mary bar with mix by Spotted Salamander Catering
Beer: Widmer Citra Summer, Widmer Hefeweizen, Magic Hat No. 9, Kona Longboard Lager
Wine: Fetzer earth-friendly wines
And more!

VIP tomato potluck ticketholders should bring an “outside-the-box” tomato dish to share, featuring at least one sustainable ingredient. Potluck tickets are $20.

EDUCATION: Taste a variety of locally grown heirloom tomato varieties; browse the 3-D city guide to the Midlands sustainable food scene in the Faces of Local Food tent; self-tour City Roots urban sustainable farm; talk with reps from the Carolina Farm Stewards Association; and more.

Come revel in the insanely superior taste of fat, juicy tomatoes bred for flavor, not long-distance shipping. Why? Cause ‘maters matter!

@SlowFoodCola @SustainableMid #matersmatter #tastytomato

Our non-profits, Slow Food Columbia and Sustainable Midlands, are working to raise the visibility of the progressive, sustainable food scene, and your ticket purchase and attendance helps big time!

We're gonna have a lovely time!

Join Slow Food Columbia:

Join Sustainable Midlands:

You Can Buy Tasty Tomato Festival Tickets Here

Dear 'mater lovers,

You can buy your advance tickets right here until 11:55pm Saturday, July 13! Then, regular price tickets -- and plenty of 'em -- will be available at both of the festival entrances. Thanks for your support, y'all!

Love, The Palmetto Tasty Tomato Festival