12th Annual Marion Co. Master Gardeners’ Tomato Festival is back after 2020 COVID cancelation


FAIRMONT, W.Va. – The 12th Annual Marion Co. Master Gardeners’ Tomato Festival was held on Sunday afternoon in Palatine Park.

Roughly two dozen vendors were there, along with a few dozen people who wanted to buy locally grown/sourced tomatoes, honey and other produce. Liz DeRoos, president of the Marion Co. Master Gardeners’, said she was happy with the overall turnout.

“We had a really good turnout of vendors and we had a new children’s education table today with a free activity for children,” DeRoos said. “We’ve got great music. We’ve got some great food. We have, especially, a lot of people selling plants and vegetables. We also ran a tomato-tasting contest and a tomato judging contest, and we do this annually.”

A large part of the excitement for Sunday’s event for DeRoos, other Master Gardeners and those who attended the event was the fact that it was not canceled, unlike in 2020.

The kids’ table

The event was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but everyone was “happy to be back this year”, DeRoos said.

She continued.

“Really happy, and we’re actually really happy that the rain went around us and we have only been lightly touched by that.”

Musicians on stage getting ready to perform another set

Along with produce, music and competitions, there were, also, raffle prizes at the 12th Annual Marion Co. Master Gardeners’ Tomato Festival.

“We do raffle gift basket baskets,” DeRoos said. “I believe we had a WVU basket. We had a tea basket and a garden basket, so we’ve contributed to those and those raffle tickets were sold and beautiful baskets went out.”

Those who were not present to receive their prizes when their names were called have the chance of arranging another time to receive their raffle baskets.

Tomatoes for sale at 12th Annual Marion Co. Master Gardeners’ Tomato Festival

For the uninitiated, Master Gardeners is under the umbrella of the West Virginia University Extension Service, DeRoos said.

“Our mission is to make gardening and gardening activities accessible and meaningful and educational for the community: children, seniors and everyone in between,” she said.

And that is, exactly, what was accomplished on Sunday afternoon. There were children, seniors and everyone in between talking to vendors, taking part in activities, all of which involved gardening.

Tomatoes from different gardeners waiting to be judged

If anyone missed the chance to stop by this year, DeRoos said not to fret. She, instead, offered a simple message.

“Sorry we missed you this year, but we are back in force,” she said. “And come out next year to the tomato festival. We’re always on that middle Sunday in August at Palatine Park. Come and see us.”

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