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Tomato lovers and experts to celebrate at Kamloops festival

A table of submissions at a tomato tasting competition at the Kamloops Tomato Festival, 2022.
A table of submissions at a tomato tasting competition at the Kamloops Tomato Festival, 2022.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/ Deanna Hurstfield

Juicy, colourful and even oddly-shaped tomatoes are at the centre of the Kamloops Tomato Festival this fall. The annual one-day festival is expanding to a week-long celebration of tomatoes this year complete with competitions, crafts and presentations by several community groups.

“Because of COVID the festival has been very low key for a few years, and just last year we were able to bring back the tasting event,” said events coordinator for the Kamloops Farmers Market, Deanna Hurstfield.

The festival kicks off with a tomato competition on Saturday, Sept. 16, where contestants can enter competition categories for the largest tomato by weight, the most colourful, the most unusual shape and the greatest number of tomatoes in a single cluster.

“People can bring in their best tomato if they think it’s a winning contender,” said events coordinator for the Kamloops Farmers Market, Deanna Hurstfield. “We do have judges but it’s meant to be a fun competition.”

Also on the juicy agenda are tomato canning demonstrations and information presented by the K'wese'ltken Farmers and Artisans Market. Mid-week the Mount Paul Community Food Centre will talk about their programs, community gardens and community kitchens.

On the last day, Sept. 16 the Kamloops Food Policy Council will be discussing their many community programs that centre around food security and the Thompson Shuswap Master Gardeners will talk about seed saving, while the Kamloops Museum and Archive will be hosting a children’s tomato-themed crafting event. 

The public can taste tomatoes from local growers and vote for the best tasting tomato for the People’s Choice Award.

“Last year, there were 17 different tomato varietals that were tasted,” Hurstfield said. “Everyone can come taste and get a chance to vote.”

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The Tomato Festival was started in 2012 by the TRU Friends of the Garden and was later taken over by the Kamloops Farmers' Market that currently organizes it with the K’wese’ltken Farmer and Artisan Market.

“Kamloops has a lot of history with tomatoes, there used to be tomato canneries here,” Hurstfield said. “The festival is all about celebrating tomatoes, sharing information and encouraging people to grow tomatoes. Even though we’re at the end of the season you can save seeds for next year and learn about canning and drying them.”

READ MORE: Permanent indoor space in works for a relocated Kelowna Farmers’ Market

The Tomato Festival runs at the Kamloops Farmers' Market location in the 200 block of St. Paul Street from Saturday, Sept. 9, to Saturday, Sept. 16, with events taking place mid-week at the 400 block of Victoria Street. Go here for more information.

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