RUSKIN TOMATO
FESTIVAL REVIEW




2009 RUSKIN TOMATO & HERITAGE FESTIVAL

RUSKIN TOMATO FESTIVAL

DATES & TIMES:

SATURDAY - May 2, 2009
10:00am to 5:00pm

SUNDAY - May 3, 2009
10:00am to 4:00pm

ADMISSION: Children under 12- FREE
Adults - $5:00

LOCATION:

The location for the 2009 Ruskin Tomato Festival was E.G. Simmons State Park. This Ruskin area park is west of I-75 in Central Florida. E.G. Simmons park is located by beautiful Tampa bay.



GENERAL INFORMATION: The City of Ruskin Florida was established about one hundred years ago.

The Ruskin name comes from the English writer John Ruskin. John Ruskin was a critic of society calling for Social reform. His work inspired Dr. George Miller to create a College of equal opportunity for everyone, including gender equality, which wasn't a popular notion in turn of the century America.

In 1910 he started the Ruskin Commongood Society and shortly after started the Ruskin College.

The College was supported financially by farming the acreage around Ruskin. That was the begining of one of the richest farming areas in the State of Florida and in the Country.

More on the History of Ruskin, Florida

The Ruskin Tomato Festival is actually the Ruskin Tomato & Heritage Festival.

Growing tomatoes has a lot to do with the Heritage of this community.

It plays a large part in Florida tomato growers being the source for 95% of all U.S. grown tomatoes consumed by Americans From October through June and 45% of the total U.S. yearly production.


Getting to the Ruskin Tomato Festival is easy. Ruskin is located on the west coast of Florida near Tampa.

Traveling on I-75 to exit 240B which is S.R. 674 West we followed the directions found on the the Ruskin Tomato Festival Website.

After exiting the highway you will notice a mix of country settings and suburban communities.


REVIEW:

Our first stop wasn't the Festival.

We were Permitted to tour the farm and production facility of one of the top tomato producers in the world, DiMare's Ruskin Tomato Farm. The Dimare Farm Tour.

After the tour we headed over to E G. Simmons State Park the home of the 2009 Ruskin Tomato Festival.

What a beautiful setting for a Tomato Festival. It had both a rural feel as well as a tropical beach setting.

Driving into the Festival parking area we knew, after our Festival visit, a trip to the beach was a must.

Getting out of our car we noticed people everywhere carrying very large potted tomato plants, loaded with tomatoes. These plants were sticking out of half the cars and trucks in the parking lot.

This Festival must be having one heck of a tomato plant sale.

Our pace quickened to pay our $5.00 admission fee to get through the gate and check out this plant sale.

Little did we know we were way off track regarding these handsome tomato plants.

Getting there early was the key. It turns out the people of Ruskin decided to give away a plant to each of the first 700 people entering the festival on each day of the event.

We went back to the car with ours, smiling all the way. More on the tomato plant giveaway later.

Re-entering the Ruskin Tomato Festival, visitors are flanked on the right by vintage Farm Tractors.

The same side close to the entrance/exit were the vegetable and fruit stands with some very sweet deals. We made that our last stop before leaving.

On the the left side were farm related displays and giveaways by "In the Field" magazine and "Florida Tomato Committee" which handed out a great little Florida Tomatoes pamphlet with Tomato Sandwich Recipes. Florida Tomatoes Pamphlet and More

Festival goers found a wide array of Arts and Crafts, Blacksmiths, Wood carvers and more.



Right in the middle of the grounds was a pavillion with a band stand that was filling the grounds with some great Country and Western music.

The pavillion also provided a break from the blue skys and Florida sun with an area for listening to music and dining.

The Festival offered up dishes of free slices of tomatoes. Add a little salt and pepper and Yummm!

Festival food is usually pretty scripted. Funnel cakes, corn dogs Etc, but it was the unusual that set this Festival apart.



How about some Mullet? You could have it fried or smoked.
The local cuisine didn't stop there.

The seafood was the suprise bonus. Remember, this town is nestled right along the expansive Tampa Bay with a maze of estuaries.

How many tomato festivals offer clam baskets, shrimp baskets, oysters, fish and chips, catfish, scallops and local fresh Grouper?! Wow!

While we were checking out the Festival, we ran into Mr Don Glover. Mr. Glover was our contact at the Festival and is one of the key organizers.

Mr. Glover told us the economic slowdown nearly stopped the Festival from happening, Were it not for the extra help from their big sponsors, such as Tony DiMare of DiMare Farms, the community would have suffered from the loss of this event.

We complimented Mr Glover and the Festival on their Tomato Plant give away.

Mr Glover said, "Thank my wife. She worked hard on putting that together. She urged various businesses to donate all the parts for the final product".

Mrs. Glover's organizing skills got everyone involved, she had companies from the local community donate pots, stakes, dirt and the plants. Hats off to Mrs. Glover and the Ruskin Community for coming together for a great event.

The proceeds from this event go right back into the community, helping to improve the City of Ruskin.

Speaking of community, Home Depot Garden Club was there in force, with a Kid's Garden Workshop.

Each child was guided to construct a wooden wheelbarrow, fill it with potting soil and plant a tomtato plant right in the middle.

Growing tomatoes, a very nice learning experience and charactor builder for the children.



Sadly, as the festival was winding down it was time to go. Our stomaches full, our grocery bags full and our car stuffed with our Tomato Plant and goodies from one of the top Florida Festivals.




This Festival Starts off the Tomato Festival Season for the whole country and what a great place to start.

Before leaving this wonderful Tomato Festival there was one more thing to do.

A short stroll over to the beach for a gorgeous Tampa Bay sunset.

Amazing!



Sadly, the 2010 Ruskin Tomato & Heritage Festival has been Postponed due to economic conditions. We at Everything-Tomatoes hope the community of Ruskin rebounds to bring back more great festivals in the future.

The Ruskin Festival is currently not in operation.

Too bad, because this was one of the best Festivals in the country. Hopefully the community of Ruskin will re-bound and bring this classic Festival back.




Looking for great tomato Recipes? Check the Everything Tomatoes Recipe List