The 49th annual Reynoldsburg Tomato Festival will feature a combination of old favorites and new features Aug. 15 and 16 at Huber Park, 1520 Davidson Drive.
The festival will run from 4 to 10 p.m. Friday, Aug. 15, and from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 16. Parking is free at the Reynoldsburg Swim Club, Spangler Field in Huber Park and JFK Park; there is no admission fee to the festival.
New this year is a spaghetti-eating contest that organizers hope will become an annual event.
The participation fee is $5 per person; the contest begins at 2:30 p.m. Aug. 16.
"People will have 10 minutes to eat as many plates of pasta as they can," Tomato Festival Committee member Chuck Cochran said. "We have three divisions -- 18 and over; 55 and over and organizations, which will be Lions Club competing against the VFW or police against firefighters."
Cochran said contestants must register in advance on the festival website, reynoldsburgtomatofestival.org.
"We wanted to do something new and fun that was tomato-based," he said.
Also new this year is a student art show, scheduled from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Aug. 16 at the Reynoldsburg Municipal Building, 7232 E. Main St. The show was organized by Donna Boiman from the Central Ohio Art Academy.
The dunk tank and the beer garden will both return this year, said Susan Brusk, also a Tomato Festival Committee member.
She said local police officers and firefighters, plus a local celebrity or two, will take turns in the dunk tank. Police Chief Jim O'Neill and officer Tamara Jackson will take turns from noon to 2 p.m. Aug. 16.
Proceeds from the dunk tank, which is sponsored by Dave Gill Chevrolet, go to support Ronald McDonald House.
"We will have some local people on hand to dunk and hope to do even better than last year," Brusk said. "They raised $1,300 at the dunk tank last year."
The city waives its "no alcohol in city parks" rule to allow the operation of a beer garden during the Tomato Festival.
The beer garden will open at 6 p.m. the first day of the festival and at noon the second day. Beer will be served in a fenced-off area at the park.
"We want to emphasize that you must have identification to purchase alcohol, no matter how old you are, and that you must be at least 21," Cochran said.
People who want to enter their prize tomatoes or tomato products in a best tomato contest will find rules for submissions on the festival website.
Tomato contest awards will be presented during opening ceremonies, which start at 6 p.m. Friday and will include a presentation of colors by VFW Post 9473; Ashley Cochran singing the national anthem; introduction of the reigning Tomato Queen and Little Princess and presentation of the 2014 Senior King and Queen. The Reynoldsburg High School Marching Band also will perform.
Festival royalty, music acts
Brusk said the senior king and queen have not yet been chosen, but will be honored first at a luncheon at noon Sunday, Aug. 10, at the Reynoldsburg Senior Center, 1520 Davidson Drive.
The Little Princess contest will start at 11 a.m. Aug. 16, to be followed by the Tomato Queen contest at noon.
Musical entertainment will be provided by the Columbus rock band, theJack, from 7 to 10 p.m. Friday; Mayor Brad McCloud at 1:30 p.m. Saturday; and Cliff Cody from 7 to 8 p.m. Saturday, followed by McGuffey Lane from 8 to 10 p.m.
Saturday's schedule also includes a car show at 5 p.m.
Brusk said food choices at the festival will be plentiful this year. Local organizations such as the Lions Club and the Masonic Lodge will sell hot dogs, roasted corn or hamburgers, or fair food, such as funnel cakes. The Reynoldsburg Band Boosters will sell fried green tomatoes and Cold Stone Creamery will offer tomato ice cream and other ice cream desserts.
"I like tomato ice cream," Brusk said. "It takes like a really rich tomato soup, with extras, like chocolate sauce."
She said other vendors include Hot Pot Creations, with kettle corn; JD Food Express with Italian sausages; the Sugar Shack with candy apples, fudge and nuts; and Rainbow Foods, with shrimp baskets and corn dogs, among others.