'Sunsugar' Rules as Top Tomato at Third Tomadah Paradah

201 Tomatoes Touched, Tasted and Toasted

August 21, 2012

From the left, Mary and Anna Thatcher of Waynesville, Jackie Heiert of Cincinnati and Janis Bertke of Park Hills, Ky., sample the main course — tomatoes — at the third annual Tomadah Paradah.

From the left, Mary and Anna Thatcher of Waynesville, Jackie Heiert of Cincinnati and Janis Bertke of Park Hills, Ky., sample the main course — tomatoes — at the third annual Tomadah Paradah.

Park’s Beefy Boy, Phoenix, Pink Brandywine, Nebraska Wedding, Shady Lady and Red October constituted merely the tip of the iceberg of the 201 varieties of tomatoes displayed Aug. 18 at Wilmington College’s third annual Tomadah Paradah.

Some 300 hundred tomato lovers attended the event held at the Wilmington College Farm, where they had an opportunity to taste, touch and marvel at all things tomato.

The College, Swindler & Sons Florists, General Denver Hotel and Grille, and the Clinton County Farm Bureau co-hosted the event.

It featured tomatoes in all colors, shapes, sizes and pedigree produced at the College Farm by WC’s Agriculture Department. Phil Swindler, a master of ceremonies for the event, marveled at the number of varieties represented —especially considering the dry summer.

“Monte and Randy deserve the credit,” he said. “You never know if you’re going to have tomatoes ready for an event like this. I’m so pleased that Wilmington College is interested in doing something like this for the community.”

Tomato aficionado Janis Bertke of Park Hills, Ky., also was pleased as she attended her first Tomadah Paradah.

“I just love tomatoes,” she said. “This event was right up my alley.”

An unofficial polling of participants indicated the Sunsugar cherry tomato again this year was the popular favorite. Judges also endorsed that opinion as George Wilson’s Sunsugar won the best tasting cherry tomato competition.

“The cherries ended up being the favorite of a lot of people,” Swindler said, noting that variety was the popular favorite last year and, another cherry, Sweet Orange earned similar acclaim in the Tomadah Paradah’s inaugural year 2010.

“Sunsugar is a sweet and visually appealing tomato,” he added. “It bursts in your mouth with flavor.”

Bob Webb’s Celebrity variety was the judges’ unanimous choice for overall best tasting tomato while this year’s heaviest was a 2.525-pound German Strawberry brought in by Carroll Doughman. Ravonda Snapp had the best-tasting salsa.

(LEFT) A birdseye view shows many of the 201 tomatoes on display.

The winners of the heaviest and best-tasting tomato received $100 prizes from Swindler & Sons and a year’s Farm Bureau membership, while the prize for the best salsa was dinner for two at the General Denver and a $50 prize from the Farm Bureau. Pat Swindler donated homemade quilts for the winner of the best-tasting cherry tomato and for the winner of the attendance drawing, which was won by Marilyn Williamson.

Anderson said the Agriculture Department has given away some 3,800 pounds of tomatoes so far this summer with the bulk going to local food pantries. Last year’s crop of 135 varieties yielded 6,600 pounds by season’s end. He doesn’t expect to match 2011’s yield due to this summer’s the hot, dry conditions.

“We had to water a lot, which isn’t as good as rainfall or irrigation,” he said. “It’s been a dry growing season and we didn't get the yield we were looking for.”

Yet, all but one of the varieties they planted made an appearance at the Tomadah Paradah. This year’s 202nd variety died several weeks ago after “fruiting early in the season.”

Anderson said the extreme weather caused some varieties to develop especially tough skin while others actually thrived under the conditions and produced juicy, good-tasting tomatoes.

The popular event also featured the Tomadah Paradah 5K Run/Walk and information tables staffed by the Farm Bureau, Clinton County Master Gardeners, Center for Innovative Food Technology (CIFT), Grow Food, Grow Hope and the Clinton County Homemakers.