Reynoldsburg News

Planners gearing up for 2014 Tomato Festival

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Despite a cold blanket of snow on the ground, the Reynoldsburg Tomato Festival committee is thinking warm thoughts and gearing up for this summer's festival.

The committee will meet at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, March 6, at the Reynoldsburg Police Department community room, 7240 E. Main St.

Committee member Mary Hudson said residents are invited to attend and bring their ideas and comments.

"We'd like to network and get some fresh ideas," she said.

This year's festival is scheduled for Friday, Aug. 15, and Saturday, Aug. 16, at Huber Park, 1520 Davidson Drive.

"We are really trying to get on the bandwagon this year and get some good entertainment for both Friday and Saturday of the festival," Hudson said.

She said the beer garden, instituted first in 2012, after Reynoldsburg City Council approved a special two-day alcohol permit, will continue to be a feature of the festival.

"The beer garden is one reason we want to find some good bands that people want to hear, since the entertainment is a big draw and the beer garden is close to the stage," she said.

Last year's bands included the Bruise Brothers and McGuffey Lane.

"We always have a pizza contest and we are thinking of having a spaghetti-eating contest or something to get the fire department and police department involved," she said.

Activities last year included a Cruise-In Car Show, bounce houses, Shriner Clowns, the "World's Tallest Pinball Machine," a high school battle of the bands, Columbus Zoo animal exhibit, and Lazer tag, hamster balls and a video game truck provided by Games2u.

Truro Township firefighters presented a Jaws of Life demonstration and brought in LifeFlight helicopters.

Reynoldsburg police officers also participated in a dunk tank, which allowed people to try their hand at dunking police officers, firefighters and other city notables, raising about $1,300 for Ronald McDonald House.

Hudson said they were blessed with good weather last year, so committee finances are "in the black."

"One year of rain, though, and that could change," she said. "The weather is pretty important in helping the festival stay successful."

Community sponsors, vendor fees and beer garden proceeds all help to fund the festival, but a large electric bill almost caused the committee to begin charging for parking last summer.

Last June, Mayor Brad McCloud authorized a city expenditure of $9,750 for electrical support for the Tomato Festival, after festival committee members said the event had cleared only $634 the year before and could not reimburse the city for that expense.

McCloud said the committee would have to begin charging for parking if the city could not support the festival.

Parks and Recreation Department Director Joe Brown said he would look into the cost of installing a permanent electrical distribution center at Huber, which would nullify the need to pay for electrical generators and a power source for the festival.

Hudson said people who are not able to attend the committee meeting on March 6 at the police station but have ideas about the festival, should email her at visitmary@aol.com.

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