FORT SCOTT, Kan. -- An upcoming special event for the Fort Scott Farmers' Market will be centered around a popular red fruit that comes in several different varieties and can be used in numerous ways.
The fourth annual Tomato Festival is scheduled for 8 a.m. to noon Saturday, July 14, at Skubitz Plaza near Fort Scott National Historic Site. Activities scheduled include tomato tasting and judging, a cooking demonstration, live music and activities for children. Tomatoes are usually popular, ripe and in season at this time of year and the festival was created to celebrate the height of their season.
During the tasting contest, market-goers will be able to taste a variety of tomatoes and choose the tastiest tomato at the market. Varieties available include jetstars, golden rave, jet setter, lemon boy, brandywine and black cherry.
There are also, red, green and yellow tomatoes, heirloom varieties, curry tomatoes and yellow Romas, Farmers' Market Association spokeswoman and vendor Mary Corpstein said.
"There are just hundreds of varieties," she said.
Corpstein said there are also a number of ways tomatoes can be used in dishes, such as bacon and tomato sandwiches, as an ingredient in pasta, cucumber or lettuce salads and gazpacho, a cold Spanish-style soup made from tomatoes, other vegetables and spices.
Organizers recruit local cooks to conduct cooking demonstrations each year showing the many uses of tomatoes. Free samples and recipes are handed out at each event.
Fort Scott native Jessica Carson will provide musical entertainment during the event. Carson will perform country music, some classic and "oldies" tunes, Corpstein said.
Local clay artist Bobbi Kemna will be on hand to teach children how to form little clay pots.
Children's activities and games that are planned include hula hooping, a tomato toss-across, sidewalk chalk, bubbles and face painting.
Honey sticks and other prizes will be given out to all participants.
Books and Grannies, a local bookstore, will provide discount coupons for children's books as one of the prizes.
The tomato tasting contest, cooking demonstration and children's activities will be held from 8 to 11 a.m. July 14. Farmers' Market vendor booths will be open from 8 a.m. to noon.
Food items that vendors will be selling include squash, beans, onions, potatoes, cantaloupes, peppers, cucumbers, okra, herbs, garlic, eggplant, corn, carrots, apples, pears, watermelons, and of course, tomatoes.
Along with all of the vegetables available, market-goers will also find baked goods, honey, jams and jellies, and crafts. Pastured poultry, ground beef, naturally-raised pork bratwurst, pork chops and breakfast sausage will also be available.
Corpstein said the event has been "hugely attended" in past years.
"We usually get 500 to 600 people in those four hours," she said. "It's been a really well attended event in the past."
She added that hopefully the heat will subside in order to make a more pleasant atmosphere at the event.
Despite the ongoing heat wave, the market has had good attendance so far this year, and typically draws a lot of people to its special events, even during hot weather, Corpstein said.