Like a good crop, the Grainger County Tomato Festival grows bigger each year

The famous Grainger County tomatoes grew in just fine this year, and the number of festival visitors was larger than previous years.

In Grainger County, the annual tomato festival draws hundreds of people in every year. 2019 was no different, and organizers say it grows bigger every year.

"Because we add more, people are coming out to see the different things," Kathie Self, the chairman of the tomato festival said.

All the tomatoes at the festival, even the fried green ones, came from local produce.

"You know our farmers are the lifeline," Self said.

Farmers noticed there was a bigger crop of people, "The crowd seems to be really good this year, so we're tickled with that," Kim Stratton, the owner of Stratton Farms said.

But explained the weather this year brought in an average amount of the red fruits.

"We had a couple of weeks in May when it was really, really hot in the mid 90s, and that made the plants really yearn for lots of water, so we've been having to use lots of irrigation until here lately and now we're getting lots of rain," Stratton noted.

The secret to that sweet, unmistakable Grainger County tomato taste? Everyone has their opinions.

"I believe it's the soil," Self added in. "I'm not the agricultural extension agent, but in my mind it's the soil."

"Some say it's the soil, some say it's the climate we're at, all I know is they're good," Stratton continued.

"Well they're recognized worldwide, Grainger County tomatoes are," Morgan said.

Overall, the festival hopes to keep growing, and the farmers always hope for a good season.

"We've got a lot to celebrate," Self said. "We are a good, family community, and we want to show everybody."

Farmers say tomato season usually goes until the first freeze in November.

Source: WBIR, by Katie Inman

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Published August 2, 2019