July 5, 2009, Leamington, Ont. — The annual Hottest Tomato Competition for Leamington tomato growers has a new home this year.
|PHOTO BY DEANNA GETTY, LEAMINGTON POST AND SHOPPER
REACH International president Art Barron, left, presents the 2008 Overall Best Tomato Award to Giuseppe Rubino of Mastronardi Produce.
Now in its third year, the keenly contested event will be moving from the town’s annual Tomato Festival to its own venue at the town’s new Metro Superstore. It will be held the weekend of Aug. 15–16.
“The move comes for a couple of reasons,” explains organizer Nicole Barron. “The festival grounds always made it very difficult for the growers to bring their tomatoes. Now the growers, judges and volunteers will be able to walk right into the tent from the huge parking lot right at Metro. We are also anticipating growing the competition next year to include greenhouse peppers and cucumbers, so we needed a venue that could grow with us.”
A new category is also being added for this year. Upon the recommendation of some of the growers, the Specialty category has been split into two separate categories. Cocktail Tomatoes will now be judged on its own, and Specialty will now include tomatoes that don’t fall into one of the other categories of Beefsteak, On-The-Vine, Roma and Cocktail.
Mastronardi Produce had a great showing last year, winning in the "Beafsteak" and "Specialty" categories for best tomato as well as being named the “Best Overall Tomato in the Tomato Capitol of Canada.” Erie Shores took home the “Best On-The-Vine Tomato” for the second year in a row, while Pure Hothouse had the “Best Roma Tomato.”
The People’s Choice Award was created last year because it was found that the general public’s opinion of best tomatoes varied slightly from that of the judges. The crowd was quite enthusiastic and people were thrilled to discover what a rich variety and bounty of greenhouse tomatoes are growing in their “own backyard.” CNK Farms’ Bella Sweets (distributed by Mucci Pac) won the People’s Choice Award for 2008.
Last year, $5,750 was raised for the host charity, REACH International (www.reachint.org). With last year’s funds, the charity was able to send 17 children in Uganda to school for a full year, as well as help fund other important projects.
“We encourage our winners to use the title in their advertising and
corporate communications to show off their win,” says Art Barron,
president of REACH International.
For more information about the event or to download entry forms visit www.hottesttomato.com, or call 519-968-2612.