FREDERICKTOWN — Tomatoes appropriately occupy a considerable amount of exhibitor space at the Fredericktown Tomato Show this week; and on Thursday, OSU Extension educator Troy Cooper judged all of the produce.
Tomato Show directors Dennis Shinaberry, Bernie Douglas and Mike Gearhart assisted Cooper and helped identify and label winners. Volunteer Tami Hules recorded the winners’ names.
Exhibitors entered a wide variety of tomatoes that included large meaty tomatoes, green tomatoes, pinks, Roma, cherry and variegated, to name a few.
There were also unique tomato categories like the Biggest first place entry belonging to Richard Grimm. There were also the most unusual, open class entries, and the tomatoes transformed into little people by Fredericktown second-grade students.
In the open class, Sue Vaughn won first place for her “Live Like There’s No Tomorrow” display of a tomato trumpeter at a church. There were other unique open class creations as well, including Jerry Bechtel’s second place caterpillar created entirely from a variety of tomatoes.
The criteria Cooper used to evaluate the tomatoes, and much of the other produce, included color, uniformity, size and yield. Yield refers to how much of the tomato was undamaged and edible. He said he considered what made a good market tomato.
Cooper picked up a tomato with cracks extending from the stem and said that the crack did not make the tomatoes “bad.” He said it was merely a result of this summer’s dry season.
Judges do not look at names while making their selection and Cooper was no different. He was surprised to learn that six of the first place tomato entries he awarded were given to Jason Dirst. Dirst was also awarded one second place prize.
The Best of Show was awarded to Macy Earnest. Cooper chose her entry from all of the first place winners.
“When I looked at all of the first place winners,” Cooper said, “these were uniform, the color was good, and there’s not a whole lot of spoilage.”
The big tent hosts more than the produce; the canned goods and baked goods are there, too. Visitors can see the Best Tomato Pie entry by Monica VanAtta for her green tomato pie and the Best of Show in the Baked Goods that went to Dave Bessett for his sourdough bread.
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