600 pound tomatoes dot city of Jacksonville - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

600 pound tomatoes dot city of Jacksonville

A 600 pound tomato at the city limits of Jacksonville. A 600 pound tomato at the city limits of Jacksonville.
JACKSONVILLE, TX (KLTV) -  Jacksonville and tomatoes: the words are nearly synonymous. The city has had the Tomato Festival for thirty years now, named their football stadium the Tomato Bowl, and they like to call themselves the tomato capital of the world.

Then there was the next step in Jacksonville’s tomato symbiosis: the giant concrete tomato. Yes, everyone wants one.

They are really big, and extremely heavy. They weigh in at over 600 pounds, and they’re popping up like weeds in and around Jacksonville.

The tomatoes were the brainchild of Randy Gorham, Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce Treasurer.

“Two of my kids lived in Austin for quite some time and driving down there to see them on the weekends I would go through Hutto and I noticed that Hutto had hippos. If Hutto can have hippos why can’t Jacksonville have a tomato?” Gorham said.

The chamber agreed. He couldn’t get a plastic one manufactured locally, so asked Huttoeans if their hippo maker could do a concrete tomato. You can clearly see the answer to that question when driving through town. The oversized fruits are everywhere.

“We thought we’d sell a few. I think we’ve sold close to 350 now, so it’s kind of stuck us on the map,” Gorham said.

They’ve spread from businesses to the private sector and places in-between. Michael Ousley grew tomatoes, and was one of the last farmers to use a mule doing it. He has a business at his home, and says he will order a tomato.

“I’ve noticed that Austin Bank has a great painting on their tomatoes with their logo, and I think I’d like to stick to those kinds of colors,” Ousley revealed.

Some of the tomatoes are green with ducks; they’ve been cut up and run over by trucks. They’ve been dedicated to graduating classes, and one even looks like ice cream - although I’m just not real sure about tomato ice cream.

But the most impressive is the eight-foot monstrosity in front of Texas Vessel Fabrication. The president of the company came up with the idea for the "tin-mater man", and it took some serious support to hold up a 600-pound tomato.

Gorham says they’ve had so many requests they are looking into a tomato about half the size for residents who don’t want a huge tomato in their yard, but want to show their city spirit.

Hey, Jacksonville residents, show us your tomatoes. If you have a painted concrete tomato, send us a picture to sendit@kltv.com or upload by clicking over to http://sendit.kltv.com

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