Organizers estimate more than 5,000 people visited the 49th annual Reynoldsburg Tomato Festival last weekend, sampling fried green tomatoes, tomato-flavored ice cream, funnel cakes and other fair foods, or listening to live bands and sipping a brew in the beer garden.
The younger set navigated people-sized hamster balls, jumped around in bounce houses, played midway games or donned a junior firefighter hat to put out fake fires with the Truro Township Fire Department.
Mary Hudson, director of the Reynoldsburg Visitors and Community Activities Bureau, said the first day of the festival on Aug. 15 drew a big crowd.
"It was one of our best opening nights," she said. "We had good weather and were very pleased to have a good local band to perform Friday night."
Local rock and roll band theJack performed Friday. On Saturday, performers were Cliff Cody and McGuffey Lane.
Hudson said Marco's Pizza won the pizza contest, chosen by festival visitors who tasted pizza slices from four pizza restaurants -- Marco's, Jett's, Little Caesar's and Romeo Pizza.
Sydnie Boykins, a senior at Columbus Academy, was crowned Tomato Festival Queen; first attendant was Reilly Tate, a junior at Reynoldsburg's eSTEM Academy.
Senior King and Queen were Frank and Jean Roberts and the Tomato Festival Little Princess was second-grader Rachel Joseph.
First attendant Little Princess was Olivia Dersoon, also in second grade.
Robin Baker, a Tomato Festival Committee member, said Ryan Newport won the new spaghetti-eating contest, with the fastest overall time of three minutes and 45 seconds.
"They (participants) each were required to eat 30 ounces of spaghetti without hands," she said.
In other contests, judges Matt Beal and Dan Kenny from the Ohio Department of Agriculture decided Henry Fasone had the largest tomato; Randy Dye had the smallest tomato; Mike Motz had the tallest tomato vine, at 13-feet, 4-inches; Dye had the most oddly formed tomato; Jim Palermo had the best group of three tomatoes and Donna Wortman had the best group of three heirloom tomatoes.
The best tomato-based dessert award was given to Toni Stok for her green tomato squares. Mia Goble came in second with tomato upside down cake and Donna Clifford came in third with green tomato chocolate cake.
Clifford also got a blue ribbon first-place award for her sundried tomato and black olive bread; won second place for tomato jam and third place in the best hot salsa category with her "Bahama Mama Salsa."
First-place winner for best hot salsa was Laura Corpon for "A Little Sassy Salsa" and second-place winner was Alexander Copeland with "Briarcliff Garden Salsa."
Clifford said she has been entering tomato products in the festival and volunteering since 2003.
"I also help with the check-in and check-out of items and basic safety stuff," she said.
Clifford said she loves the Tomato Festival because it is family-oriented, with fun things to do for all ages.
The Reynoldsburg Band Booster booth was busy, with people eager to sample fried green tomatoes.
Roxanne Robinson, band parent and mother of a senior at eSTEM Academy and a freshman at Encore Academy, said she was happy to help in the booth.
"It's a fun event and all the kids are loving it," she said.
Volunteer Ardetta Hoferkamp said she has two grandsons in the Reynoldsburg High School marching band.
"We had seven crates of tomatoes when I got here earlier this afternoon, and now we are down to three, so the fried green tomatoes have been popular," she said.
Hudson said plans are already underway for next year's 50th annual Reynoldsburg Tomato Festival.