17th Annual Tomato Tasting Day

Come out and enjoy the taste of summer Franklin County-style at one of the most popular free, local events-Tomato Tasting Day- on Aug. 19 from 9 to noon. Hot pepper table plus salsa & tomato contests.

Slicers, cherry, paste & salad tomatoes to taste.

Slicers, cherry, paste & salad tomatoes to taste.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says there are 25,000 tomato varieties. When home gardeners begin looking through seed catalogues early in the year they discover the mailman can deliver information and photos of the wide range offered but cannot deliver the taste.

Readers see beautiful pictures of red, pink, orange, yellow, purple and multi-colored vegetables in shapes from small cherry to grape, pear, oblong and round. Although the descriptions list size, type and other growing information words can’t supply the taste. How to choose?

Come out and enjoy the taste of summer Franklin County-style at one of the most popular local events, the Master Gardener Annual Tomato Tasting Day, where the public has a chance to taste many varieties of locally grown tomatoes. Ballots are provided to vote for the best tasting and best looking of those offered. Master Gardeners use this information to choose what will be on grown for the 2018 Greenhouse Sale.

This free family-friendly event is scheduled for Saturday, August 19 from 9 a.m. to noon at the Agricultural Heritage Center, 181 Franklin Farm Lane, Chambersburg. With tables under tents this is a rain or shine event.

In addition to the tomato tasting tent there will be the Hot Pepper Table where visitors will see, and taste, a large variety of peppers from sweet to mild and spicy to the super-hot.

There will also be both salsa and tomato contests. With the popularity of salsa soaring there are three contest categories: Classic (tomato base), Fusion (creative fruit or other bases), and Hot & Spicy. Contestants bring their salsa and chips for judging and visitors can taste and vote for the People’s Choice.

The biggest and ugliest tomato contests now has both an adult and youth division. Some of the largest tomatoes in the past were the 4-H Garden Club with a 1 pound, 9 ounce Steakhouse tomato (Youth category) and Juanita Kauffman with a 14 ounce Beefmaster (Adult category). There is no fee to enter but contestants must register by August 16 by calling 717-263-9226.

Tomato Day is made possible by the year-round continued efforts of many Master Gardeners: the greenhouse team, the planters, the waterers, the pickers, the washers, the slicers, the attendants who help usher visitors around the tables under the tent, the talliers and the hospitality group who organize our annual potluck luncheon that feeds our workers.