Jacksonville celebrating 34th Tomato Fest

JACKSONVILLE, TX (KLTV) - The rustic, earthy aroma of a freshly picked tomato fills the air in Jacksonville.

The scent is a sign that the annual Tomato Fest has again come to the city. Thirty-four years of tomato eating contests, tomato 5Ks, and talent contests have become the heart and soul of this small city.

David Claiborne has been the No. 1 provider of these famous tomatoes since 1992, he provides all of the delicious harvests for the festival.

"Our operation consists of 40 acres of tomatoes staggered throughout the season, so it's a pretty large undertaking to grow 40 acres of tomatoes," David Claiborne says. Claiborne owns the Tomato Shed.

"Two thousand five hundred boxes is 25,000 pounds so you're looking at 100, or 150,000 pounds of tomatoes."

From the production of the tomatoes to the setup of the stage, the festival demands months of ketching – up.

But the hard work pays off.

Fifteen thousand attendees showed up last year; turns out tomatoes are an international delight.

"We've had them from Canada, we have had them from Brazil, we even had a family come up from China a couple of years ago," Tomato Fest chairman Steven Butt says.

By proclamation, the mayor changed the name of the city to Tomatoville.

Unofficially, of course.

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