Information about work, life and play in Regional Australia

Friday, December 08, 2006

In Search of the Tastiest Tomato

Photo: Gunnedah Tomato Day Contest 2005 - Lyn Louis 1st Prize Tomato Sauce

Remember the taste of a tomato that truly tastes like a tomato? Head to Gunnedah (New England) in January and you’ll be able to savour one or two, or at least find out how to grow one, at the National Tomato Day Contest.

This annual event is an institution for backyard growers, who compete for the glory of such titles as biggest, reddest, tastiest and oddest-shaped tomato.

To be held at the Gunnedah Services & Bowling Club on Sunday January 14, 2007, the event has been held annually for the past 27 years, since two locals argued over who had grown the biggest tomatoes in their backyards.

Organiser John Campbell, who describes the day as “sport for vegetable growers”, says locals are now growing tomatoes purely for the sake of the competition.

“It’s not quite as competitive as it used to be but there are people just growing them especially for the day,” John said.

In past years, though, the competition was so fierce it even led to cheating.

“Some years ago, the judges discovered a tomato entered in the Biggest Tomato category with lead sinkers concealed inside it,” John explained.

Despite the rivalry, the contest is still a very friendly affair, with competitors comparing notes on the best ways to grow the popular fruit.

The newest category, tastiest tomato, is expected to intensify the competition. Other categories in the competition include: The biggest tomato; the widest tomato; the oddest shape tomato; the heaviest single truss of tomatoes; the best tomato; and a special novelty exhibit category for children under 12 years.

Then there are prizes for all those delicious condiments made from the tomato: best tomato jam; relish; pickles and sauce!

Other home-grown produce competing for prizes will be the cucumber and the humble onion.

There are also contests on the day for whip-cracking and home brewed ginger beer; and displays of olive produce and lavender farm products.

Entertainment on the day includes a talent quest, with categories for under 10s, 10 to 16 year olds and open; as well as live music. First prize in the open talent quest is $250.

All produce is auctioned off at the end of the day, with total proceeds going towards the Rural Fire Service.

For more information or interviews, phone John Campbell at the Gunnedah Services & Bowling Club on (02) 6742 0400 or Ray Darcy on (02) 6742 2919.


Gunnedah is on the Oxley Highway, 490kms North North-West of Sydney and 650kms South South-West of Brisbane.

The town is particularly famous for its resident koala population and is known as The Koala Capital.

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