All, Thanks to all the countless hours you invest to make Tomaopalooza. I assisted in cutting samples, but felt I should have done more. Craig it was great to see and speak with you again. The location was impressive! The tomatoes however, weren’t too impressive this year I'm guess due to the showers we've all had this year. In fairness to the tomatoes, it would be nice if submission guidelines were made available to attendees. This may help get a more consistent taste comparison. I know this doesn't address all the variables, but it may help people decide what to bring.  
The site was absolutely unbelievable. The shade provided by the tree made the heat of the afternoon bearable while letting us gaze on the true colors of the fruit. The lack of flying pests we had last year was a great relief. The crowd was interesting, I would love to know the average age of the attendees, although I would probably be pushing the number up with my statistics. You guys did a fabulous job and I will make it a habit to attend every year as long as there are maters to taste. Thanks for the tee shirt, I will wear it proudly. 
Was a very nice event and great venue.
Enjoyed seeing, tasting all the tomatoes, gave me the knowledge I needed for what to grow next year.

Mexico Midget and Cossack Pineapple are 2 on the list for sure.

Also Cherokee Green.

My 3 Dwarfs are plugging along, still only the Rosella Crimson has fruit, just 2-3 small tomatoes largest about the size of a silver dollar.
The Summer Sunrise and Chocolate Champion keep dropping blossoms everyday.
The heat and humidity which doesn't look like it going to end until at least September is taking its toll.

I am dusting them with copper fungicide every 5 days to try to stave off what ever blight is trying to murder them.

So what tomato won best tasting and most unusual?

I see what Salsa's won but no mention of the tomatoes 
Thanks! I really enjoyed attending my first Tomatopalooza event this year. If you would like to use any of the photos I took, please add them as you will.

Why not have the presenters provide seed packets for sale for those tomatoes they are displaying at the event? I know there were some (Cossack Pineapple, Flat Head Monster, Black Cherry, etc.0 that I would have liked to have purchased once I tasted how unusual they were.

My blog post for Tomatopalooza 2012

Flickr Photo Set for Tomatopalooza 2012 
All in all a very nice day.

We had over 190 people sign in, which I believe is the largest number we've ever had attending.
We had over 160 different tomato varieties represented. (I'll update the exact number when I have them enumerated.)

Here's the results of the best tasting and most unusual voting:
Best Tasting:
Shannon's and Mexico Midget - 5 votes each
Cossack Pineapple and Dester Amish - 4 votes each
Black Cherry, Cherokee Purple, Sungold - 3 votes each
Anna Russian, German Queen, Orange Heirloom, Strawberry Margarita - 2 votes each

Of course, I forgot to vote which is why Cuostralee isn't in that list! 

Most Unusual:

Cossack Pineapple - Winner
Goldie, Garden Peach, Mexico Midget, Green Zebra, Uluru Ochre - Runners Up

We had 4~5 tables that held the red/pink varieties and 4 for the cherries, greens, blacks, orange, yellow, whites, and bi-colors.
We had 3 tables for the dwarves.
I spent most of my time at the dwarves, but the notable others I tasted were Ferris Wheel, Dester Amish, Cuostralee (which was good, but not at its best), Black Cherry, Lillian's Yellow, and Kentucky Yellow Heirloom. My Orange Heirloom was good, but I'm more partial to a tomato with bite...

Speaking of which, Loxtan Lad, Dwarf Blazing Beauty, and Wherokowhai were all quite remarkable for their amazing burst of flavor. These were from the dwarf table.

Also there I had the final observations/comments:

Summertime Gold - All were a little off this year. Still an 8, but I suspect the weather around Raleigh subdued the flavors a bit.

Sean's Yellow Dwarf - A very nice tomato leaning more to the sweet side of things. Many folks had favorable impressions of this one, so I think it will be made available 
very soon. This one is in process for southern hemisphere seed production, and may be commercially available there before the NHer's have it!

Dwarf Mahogany - I dumped last year's F4 seed and went back to the F3 this year to try and get back to the flavor and production I got from the F2. This one seems to be back
in business as many folks really liked the flavor of this one.
My dad (again) has grown the best of the lot, and I will move forward with his.

Brawny F3 - The size/shape and color of this one is as expected. However, the fruit from my dad's garden has a much better taste. Many folks really liked the flavor and texture of this one, so I will move forward with this version.
Didn't get to compare it to Sweet Scarlet Dwarf, but I think the size/flavor potential of this one (future Dwarf Cuostralee!) keep it in a class of it's own.

All in all it was a very pleasant day.... but I had to come back to work to recover from the weekend! 

I often yearn for the ultimate combination...bread.. mayo, and the perfect tomato. One must have just the right amount of salt and fresh pepper with just the right bite. The preferable temperature should be in the range of 78 to 83.5 with a breeze slightly from the west at about 6.2 mph....Humidity levels are best when between 55 and 65 relative humidity. It is also important to understand the nature of the tomato dribble.... One must exhibit a slight staining of clothes to verify you have made the best of juice, mayo and chewing of tender flesh. If stains are not present on your clothes suspicion reigns high that one is not dedicated to the project if need be one could actually be disqualified from the whole process. At least one would have trouble reaching the lofty position of Master Tomato Taster and Vegetable authority. We will not address the problems of sophistication of taste and smell....It is a complex issue not often discussed in the open public but is confined to the secret meetings of the International Tomato Congress. They meet yearly in Geneva to discuss time and tomato problems. So it is with the lofty tomato....Thanks for giving me a place to write my most serious thoughts regarding the seductive red ornament usually referred to as the tomato. Oh glorious juicy flesh...remain close to me and in times of need comfort with your tender pulp. Let me keep you fresh and when you are sliced know that the juice you render is not given in pain but in quest of the sublime. 

Tom Mann
July 2012 
Tomatopalooza X in Efland - a perfect location, a beautiful day - no TV, no cell phones - just great people sharing and learning and talking an eating, listening to music and watching dancing....kind of like turning back the clock to a simpler time.

I would love to post some pics - but neither Sue (who never cut so many tomatoes in her life) or I got to pick up a camera once! My first thoughts of the day....showed up at noon, had 12 flats of tomatoes...took Sue, Sara, Caitlin, Sara's friend Wendy and me an hour to get them out and tagged (during which time I was completely drenched with sweat) - did the intro comments, off to the dwarf table, cut there, had a zillion tomato conversations, people kept pushing bottles of water at me (especially a very caring Debbie Moose...thanks, Debbie - you kept me hydrated), and Sue dragged me to the salsa table at one point (yum...the hot salsa, the cornbread!)....then at one point, a tomato/bacon sandwich (which was so, so appreciated - thanks, Alison - couldn't imagine anything tasting better!) - back to talking to attendees, answering questions - finally headed to the clogging area at 4:30 and sat my butt down in a chair for the first time since I got out of my truck at noon!  Loved the music, singing and dancing!

Of all of the Tomatopalooza events, this one was the most blurry for me - no pics, got to taste hardly anything, day flew by in a pleasant tomatoey, just wow! At one point, when a refreshing breeze blew in, I thought about how hot it was back in Raleigh, and felt so happy to be in Efland!  It seemed like a lot of people attended, which is great - and people didn't trickle in - they were there at the start... and they didn't trickle out - they stayed until the end! I hope the organizers collected info on who most of the people were and how they found out about it - much lower percentage of my seedling customers, many many new faces. Who were all those people?

I slept the clock around - collapsed at 11 PM, got up at 9 this morning, and my brain is so totally fried!  Dean, Jim, Rich, Greg, Chris, Tim (who provided so much support in set up and clean up), Ed, Steve, Scott and Lena, Jim and his wife from South Carolina, Cris - great to see you/have great conversations.  Many other friends/familiar faces I was delighted to see but didn't get nearly as much of a chance for a chat, sadly - such as Rock, Reitzel, Sarig, Gray (thanks for the beets!), and Greta - to everyone, thanks for coming, wish we had more time to chat.  Lee - thanks as always. The success of the event totally lies upon the hosts (Jimmy and Fred for sharing such superb location), Lori and Brian and their cast of many helpers (Sophia, who lived at the registration table, and Magdalena, tomato cutter extraordinaire) - my three girls (Sweet Sue, Sarandipity and Caitydid), Sara's many friends. Gardens and Guns magazine was there, and an article will be forthcoming. Sara's friend, Stephen, a photographer, was also there and took lots of pics that we can't wait to see - I am sure I am forgetting other people (sorry!) and details. Oh - and mother nature - never have my own tomato contributions made up such a large percentage of stuff to taste - which makes me nervous about future events - there is a risk there...always is, but something we need to ponder for the future.

Whoosh! Tomatopalooza X has come and gone.....that was FAST! 
Craig LeHoullier, the NC Tomatoman, was featured on WRAL's Tarheel Traveler this week! 

One of the best things about summer is tomatoes of course...and one of the best things to do with great tomatoes is to make great salsa.  So it just makes sense to try our hand at a very informal Salsa competition to help make Tomatopalooza X just a bit more special.

Here are some categories and guidelines to consider (I am making this up as I go along - Tomatopalooza events are pretty laid back, so let's call these rough guidelines):

  • Traditional Salsa
  • Salsa including fruit
  • Beyond the traditional - you decide what that means

We will look for visual interest, flavors, and heat in the assessment - as well as overall creativity.  Everyone will get a chance to vote on all of the Salsas in these three categories.  We can explain the voting/recording procedure at the event.

Suggested guidelines - please make the salsa in sufficient quantity so that a reasonable number of people can try a reasonably sized sampler.  Please provide (and take home!) serving containers, any utensils needed, and any dipping companions needed.  The facility cannot supply any heating/cooling, plates (beyond the ones we are providing for the tasting), or utensils.

If you are going to make any at the incendiary level, please provide adequate cautionary indications! 

Craig was feeling a bit nostalgic about Tomatopalooza - read his blog entry here.  A few pics from the very first event (Jimmy and Fred, there you are!)