Grainger County Tomato Festival promotes homegrown produce, local artists

The Grainger County Tomato Festival was organized in 1992 to promote Grainger County Tomatoes. (Source: Grainger County Tomatoes)

RUTLEDGE (WATE) – It doesn’t matter if you say tomato or “tomahto” at the Grainger County Tomato Festival. For 23 years the festival has honored the world famous tomatoes.

The annual festival runs through Sunday. This year’s festival will feature several vendors, dancing, live music, a pageant and The Famous Tomato War.

“It’s a lot of fun, especially when it gets cooler,” said Gary Wensell of Rutledge. “the kids are just having a blast.”

Why is the Grainger County produce so good they earner their own festival? “Some say it’s the soil, some say it’s in the water, but I think really people just don’t know how to grow tomatoes besides us,” said Shane Pierce with Pierce Farms.

Previous story: Hot, dry weather hurting Grainger County tomato crops 

The festival started in 1992 with only three farmers selling their produce, but over the years it has grown. Now, the festival also promotes local artists and craftsmen in the area as well as just about anything that grows in a garden. This year, organizers said that, despite warm temperatures, they set a record with the number of vendors.

Schedule of events

Thursday, July 23, 2015
Festival Street Dance 6:30 p.m. until
On the grounds at Rutledge Middle School
MC’ed by Murlin’s Music World

Friday, July 24, 2015
Dealer Setup – 8 a.m. until
Festival Open – Noon until 8 p.m.
Art Show Entries due by 4 p.m. – Rutledge Elementary (Old Middle School)
“Grainger County Opry” – 6:30 p.m. FREE CONCERT at middle school

Saturday, July 25, 2015
Mater Madness 5K Run 7:30 a.m.
Tomato Festival – 9 a.m. until 7 p.m.
Art & Authors Show – 9 a.m. through 7 p.m. – Elementary School
Children’s Activities 9 a.m. through 5 p.m.
The Famous Tomato Wars 10 a.m. Held behind Vo-Tech Building
Live Music – 9 a.m. through 6 p.m. Stage 1
Gospel Music – 10 a.m. through 5 p.m. Stage 2
Dancing – Stage 3
Free Gospel Concert 6 PM Middle School. Featuring The Old Paths with Sacred Calling.
Main Stage Concert with Piper Montana 7-9 PM, Cooter Daniel will MC

Sunday, July 26, 2015
Old Time Country Church Service – 10 a.m.- Main Stage
Art & Authors Show – Middle School – Noon through 5 PM
Live Music 11 p.m.through 5 p.m. Stage 1
Gospel Music 12 p.m. through 5 p.m. Stage 2
Dancing 1-3 p.m. Stage 3
The Famous Tomato Wars 2 p.m. Behind Vo-Tech Building
Festival Beauty Pageant Registration at 2 p.m., Pageant at 3 p.m.
Children’s Activities Noon through 5 p.m.

For more information on the festival, visit the Grainger County Tomato Festival’s website. 

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