Volunteers needed to help with Tomato Festival
The chance to taste tomato-flavored ice cream and fried green tomatoes in the same afternoon doesn't come along every day.
But those will be just two of the treats offered at the 49th annual Reynoldsburg Tomato Festival Aug. 16 and 17 at Huber Park as the city celebrates its history as the birthplace of the commercial tomato.
Mary Hudson, president of Reynoldsburg Tomato Festivals Inc., said the festival will feature activities for all ages, including bounce houses and games for the younger children and laser tag, a dunk tank, video games, people-sized hamster balls and other fun for teens.
Festival hours are 4 to 10 p.m. Friday, Aug. 16, and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 17, at Huber Park, 1520 Davidson Drive. Admission and parking are free.
Festival board member Chuck Cochran said volunteers of all ages are needed.
"We are staffing our own inflatables this year, although there will be a staff member from the company to assist," he said. "We still need volunteers over the age of 16 to work in three-hour blocks on Friday and Saturday. It is basically a matter of sitting there and making sure the right amount of kids are in the inflatables."
He said a training session for volunteers will be held Aug. 10 at the Reynoldsburg Police Station.
Younger volunteers, age 13 and older, are needed for the kids' games area and adult volunteers who are at least 21 are needed for other areas of the festival, including the beer garden.
Email Cochran at email@example.com for more information.
Applications for volunteers are available on the Tomato Festival website at reynoldsburgtomatofestival.org.
Hudson said visitors age 21 and older may also down a cold beer at the popular beer garden, which was added to the festival last year. The beer garden opens at 6 p.m. Friday and noon Saturday.
The Reynoldsburg Parks and Recreation Department is coordinating a kickball tournament at the festival. Teams of players age 16 and older can register by calling the parks department, at 614-322-6806 or emailing Jessica Rosenthall at firstname.lastname@example.org. The registration deadline for teams is Aug. 2.
Hudson said opening ceremonies at 6 p.m. Friday will feature Ashley Cochran singing the national anthem.
"We will also have a performance by the Reynoldsburg High School cheerleaders," she said.
The opening ceremony will include remarks by a representative of Heartland Bank, the presenting sponsor of the Tomato Festival, she said.
Hudson said bands are still needed for Tomato Jam 2 Battle of the Bands, where groups compete for the honor of playing on a main stage at 6 p.m. Saturday.
The band battle is slated for 11 a.m. Saturday.
The application fee is $150, but each band will receive a total of 30 voting tickets to sell at $5 each to recoup the application fee.
Featured entertainment on Friday includes the Bruise Brothers at 7 p.m. and Marble Park at 8 p.m.
Hudson said the laser tag and video game truck are new this year.
"We thought there was an age group that was not being serviced," she said. "We were looking for something to attract the teen population to the festival."
For the older generation, a car show featuring hot rods and classic sports cars will set up at 4 p.m. Saturday along Davidson Drive.
The Columbus Zoo will bring animals -- furry, cuddly or otherwise -- to the festival at 2 p.m. Saturday.
"Last year, they brought a cobra snake and kangaroos, among others," Hudson said.
A magician will entertain at 5 p.m. Saturday and the featured band that night will be McGuffey Lane.
"We are also bringing back our pizza taste-off," Hudson said. "People can come and buy tickets to allow them to taste all the pizzas from local restaurants, then vote on which they like best."
Cold Stone Creamery would offer tomato ice cream and the Reynoldsburg Band Boosters group will make and sell fried green tomatoes.
Members of the Livingston House Society will be handing out tomato juice, she said.
"I've been on the Tomato Festival board for the past four years, so this will be my fifth festival," Chuck Cochran said. "We are really excited about all the events."
Hudson said festival coordinators are still accepting vendor applications, which also are available on the website.
Applications for the Little Princess and Tomato Queen contests are also available on the website.