INDIANAPOLIS – Tomato or to-mah-to? Vegetable or fruit? The 2009 Indiana State Fair will shine some light on this year’s featured agricultural product as it celebrates the Year of Tomatoes presented by Red Gold® throughout its 17-day run, Aug. 7 – 23.
Indiana ranks No. 2 in the United States in production of tomatoes for processing. According to the USDA’s most recent statistics, more than 10,000 acres of tomatoes were planted statewide in 2007. Whether they’re fresh, sautéed, grilled, chopped into a spicy salsa, canned or in a ketchup packet, there’s no denying the prevalence of this ruby-red food in Hoosier households and recipes.
In addition to the dozens of tomato plants and other décor that will adorn the Indiana State Fairgrounds, some special events and activities of the Year of Tomatoes presented by Red Gold® include:
- One Can Make a Difference in Tomato Country® Canstruction competition: Created by the Society for Design Administration, teams of architects, engineers and contractors will compete to design and build giant structures made entirely from full cans of food, including 20,000 pounds of Red Gold® tomato products, which will ultimately be donated to the Gleaners Food Bank. Nine different design teams will begin building their structures on Friday, Aug. 7 from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Judging and awards will be given for different categories on Saturday, Aug. 8. All exhibits will remain on display in the Ball State Ag/Hort Building throughout the run of the fair.
- Tomato Patch Gift Shop presented by Red Gold®: Located in the heart of the fairgrounds near the main entrance to the Midway, the Gazebo Gift Shop will be painted red and accented with giant tomatoes growing on equally enormous vines. Inside, visitors will find all sorts of fair souvenirs and mementos, including many tomato-related items.
- Indiana State Fair Celebrity Tomato Toss Contest: On Wednesday, Aug. 19 at 3 p.m. in Pioneer Village, local celebrities like First Lady Cheri Daniels and local media personalities will test their throwing skills as they compete in this year’s Celebrity Tomato Toss. Everyone will get three chances to toss a tomato and try to hit the bulls-eye, skewering their tomato on the center spike. The celebrity whose tomato is closest to the center and remains on the spike the longest will be crowned the “Tomato Toss Titan.”
- Make Your Own Red Gold® Coin Bank: Each day in the Farm Bureau Building, fairgoers will see how cans are seamed and then be able to label their own Red Gold® Year of Tomatoes coin bank to take home. Hours are 3 to 7 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday-Sunday.
In addition, the Indiana State Fair will feature a Salsa Dance Contest (Aug. 9), Largest Tomato Contest (Aug. 8), Special Agriculture Food Contest (featuring tomatoes, Aug. 7), Red Gold® Salsa Recipe Contest (Aug. 20) and Tomato Trivia of the Day. Throughout the fair, visitors can learn about the different stages of growing tomatoes in the Greenhouse and find all of Indiana’s local Red Gold® tomato growers on a large, permanent Indiana map in the Normandy Barn.
Previous agricultural products featured at the Indiana State Fair include corn (2007) and trees (2008).