They aren't naming names -- at least, not yet -- but organizers say a hit-making country crooner and a 1980s MTV mainstay will be among the entertainers at the 2019 Reynoldsburg Tomato Festival.

CORRECTION: The print and earlier online version of this story contained incorrect information about residency requirements for Tomato Festival contests.

They aren't naming names -- at least, not yet -- but organizers say a hit-making country crooner and a 1980s MTV mainstay will be among the entertainers at the 2019 Reynoldsburg Tomato Festival.

Reynoldsburg City Council is expected to approve a $41,000 contract with West Virginia-based MPE Entertainment later this month, according to Parks and Recreation Director Donna Bauman.

The Reynoldsburg Tomato Festival is returning this year! Are you excited for the event to come back? https://t.co/JbNlC67i6X

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MPE Entertainment has worked with other central Ohio communities, including the Obetz ZucchiniFest and the Bucyrus Bratwurst Festival.

The Tomato Festival has a total entertainment budget of $50,000, Bauman said.

Organizers are being tight-lipped about the "national recording acts" they hope to bring in for the revamped festival.

They did give these clues, however: The country act has 10 No. 1 hits and the '80s-era band released several records in the later part of the decade.

The headliners are expected to be announced in March after contracts are signed, said Jennifer Clemens, the city's special events coordinator.

After a year's hiatus, the 2019 Tomato Festival is scheduled for Aug. 8-10 in Huber Park, 1520 Davidson Drive.

The rock band will play Friday night, Aug. 9, and the country act will close out the festival Saturday, Aug. 10. The city is taking advantage of a "radius clause" contained in the artists' contracts, Clemens said.

"We were able to route some entertainers that we knew were going to be in Ohio," she said.

Two stages of entertainment are planned, with local acts being recruited for Thursday and Saturday performances.

Reynoldsburg Festivals Inc., organized the festival for nine years before it turned over operations to the city last year.

The festival began in 1965 as a way to honor the city's claim to fame as the birthplace of a sweeter, edible tomato, created by resident Alexander W. Livingston.

In 1870, he was the first to upgrade the wild tomato plant.

"We want it to be about all things tomato. We want to build a reputation and really celebrate our heritage," Clemens said.

"We are so thankful to all the residents that have invested their time to help us rebrand the Tomato Festival by highlighting what makes Reynoldsburg unique, celebrating community traditions and building community pride."

A kickball tournament, tomato toss and salsa-making contest are among the competitions planned for the three-day festival, as are plans to bring back a "guns and hoses" style event that pits firefighters against police officers.

Clemens said the festival committee hopes to host a tomato "fight" -- think snowball fight, only messier -- that would benefit a local charity.

Amusement rides and carnival games will return to the festival this year, she said.

"One of the things we got feedback from the community on was they really wanted to bring the rides back," Clemens said.

Tomato Festival planning meetings are held at 7 p.m. the last Tuesdays of every month at the municipal building, 7232 E. Main St.

"We have several subcommittees that help with activities at the festival: entertainment, sponsorship, queen pageant, and recruiting vendors," Clemens said.

"Residents can also go online and fill out a volunteer form to help at the festival. We are encouraging students to volunteer for service hours as well."

Contestants for all Tomato Festival pageants must be Reynoldsburg residents. The queen pageant will be open to any girl who will be at least 15 years old by Aug. 8 and who is enrolled as a sophomore, junior or senior in high school for the 2019-20 school year. Scholarships will be awarded to the queen and first attendant.

The Little Princess and Little Prince contests and the Senior King and Queen contests are open to Reynoldsburg residents only.

The children's contests will be open to boys and girls who will be enrolled in second grade for the 2019-20 school year.

To qualify for the adult titles, entrants must be a married couple age 65 or older and have lived in the city for a minimum of 10 years.

Applications and complete pageant details will be online next month.

Festival hours will be 4 to 11 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 8, and Friday, Aug. 9; and 10 a.m. to 11p.m. Saturday, Aug. 10.

For additional information about the festival, visit reytomatofest.com.

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