Every year, Nashville residents count down the days until the Tomato Art Festival: a bastion of the Middle Tennessee calendar. This observance bills itself as “a uniter, not a divider – bringing together fruits and vegetables since 2004.” The Tomato Fest and its associated concert are completely free to attend, and costumes are encouraged. Today, we’ve got your insider’s guide for can’t-miss activities in East Nashville’s favorite Five Points celebration.
The History of Tomato Fest
Founded in 2004, this beloved event was the brainchild of Meg and Bret MacFayden, owners of East Nashville’s former Art and Invention Gallery. When their first fruit-and-veg-themed art show achieved wild success, the duo decided to bring it back in 2005. From there, a flavorful local tradition was established. Every year, thousands of people gather to celebrate the creativity and spirit of East Nashville (and the humble tomato).
This Weekend’s Schedule
5:00 PM – 10:00 PM
9:00 AM – 7:00 PM
*NOTE: Some events, like the 5k and Kid’s Fun Run, will take place before the official start time.
Tomato Fest Contests
The Tomato Fest’s website says that the essence of the festival is found in the “wacky and hilarious contests” associated with the event, and we’d have to agree. Here are a few of our favorite competitions that take place over the course of the weekend:
Entrants were challenged to write engaging, amusing, non-rhyming poems about – what else – tomatoes. Categories included Heirlooms (adults), Greenhouse (youth), Funnies (humor), and Oddities (poems that don’t follow the haiku format).
The first place Greenhouse winner, 8-year-old Luca Whitson, wrote the haiku we’d like to share with you today:
Tomatoes are red
But they are more than just red
They are works of art
Home Decorating Contest
Like the poetry contest, this one has already been decided; be sure to get in on the action next year! Turn your front yard into a tomato-tastic display to win (but bring your A-game – there’s some serious competition).
Photo of 1st Place Winners Meg & Seth Williams of S 13th Street, Courtesy of the Tomato Art Fest
Tomato Fest Costume Contest
Have you got the quirkiest, funniest, reddest getup at the festival? Show it off at the Garden Stage at 1:00 PM for a chance to win this year’s costume contest! Be sure to register online before the day.
- Best hat
- Tomato talents
- Best dressed
- Red hair, don’t care
- Other uniters
Beautiful Tomato Contest
You’ve heard of beauty pageants. Get ready for a tomato pageant. Bring all the glitz and glamour to your heirloom’s presentation – think showstopping outfits, kooky theming, and creativity to the max.
Pro tip: Worried that your homegrown tomatoes are too bumpy or lumpy for the beauty contest? Enter them in the “Biggest, Littlest, Ugliest” category instead.
Some of our favorite “Beautiful Tomato” entries from years past, Courtesy of the Tomato Art Fest
Ice Cream Naming Contest
Pied Piper Creamery needs help naming their newest flavor. Do you have what it takes to brand a frozen treat based only on its key ingredient? Stop by their booth this Saturday to taste that concoction and submit your suggestion. Winner takes home a package of six pints of Pied Piper’s most popular flavors!
Tomato Fest Art Show
Invent Nashville is hosting this year’s tomato art show. The gallery will be brimming with tomato-themed pieces – pick your favorite and bring it home with you!
Pro tip: Masks encouraged inside the gallery, even if you’re asymp-tomato-ic.
Kid’s Art Show
The Tomato Fest also has a contest for the little ones in your life. Coordinated by local artist Debbie Flynt, the kid’s art show is a favorite among festivalgoers. Any two-dimensional art is approved for entry and all pieces should be drawn or painted on paper or thin cardboard. Best of show, first, second, and third place ribbons will be awarded within each age category. Submit your entries today!
Push, Pull, and Wear Parade
On Saturday, local fruit and veggie lovers will gather in the streets of 5 Points to march down the main drag in tomato regalia. Whether you don an elaborate costume, enter with a non-motorized float, or create giant vegetable-themed signs, all entries are welcome! Get ready for an exciting parade complete with local bands, drumlines, and serious crowd involvement.
Saturday, August 14
9 AM – 10 AM
Meet at the corner of S12th and Russell
The Tomato Fest is an event with true local flavor. Join us for a cornucopia of culinary wonders this weekend.
Lockeland Table challenges you to create a marvelous marinara sauce and a bright, fresh tomato salad. Bring your dish to their restaurant on Saturday at 10:00 AM for official judging. Winners will be named later in the afternoon. Be sure to pre-register here!
Bloody Mary, Anyone?
The Bloody Mary Garden is a fixture of the festival, and it sells out quickly! Sample up to 15 different mixes and create your perfect beverage, complete with a whole spread of yummy garnishes. Yard games, a hat contest, brunch bites, music, and mimosas are also included.
Is your mouth watering yet? You definitely won’t go hungry this weekend. It seems like every food truck, drink peddler, and café will be in attendance tomorrow.
Pro tip: Don’t want to stand in the sun waiting for a Homestyle? You can skip the line by pre-ordering your drinks through the event’s digital menu. Link here.
A few of our top recommendations:
- Southern Spoon
- Retro Sno
- The Grilled Cheeserie
- Loveless Café
- Dreamers Food Truck
- Wild Bill’s Craft Beverage Co.
- Diskin Cider
- Tito’s Vodka
- The Mac Shack
- Yellow & Lavender Vegan Eats
Tomato Fest 5k: Walk, Skip, or Sprint
Wear bright red and start your day off with a neighborhood 5k! Saturday’s festivities kick off with a friendly roam around East Nashville’s Five Points area at 7:30 AM. Don’t worry if you’re struggling to ketchup – this inclusive event is fun for the whole family. Be sure to attend the kid’s fun run before the race! Register here.
East Nashville 5k Runners, Courtesy of the Tomato Art Fest
Support East Nashville at the Tomato Fest
Finally, you can expect a strong showing from local artisans and boutiques. The Tomato Fest is always full of pottery, glass, art, clothes, toys, jewelry, and more. While many pieces will be themed for the event, original items will also be for sale. The official vendor list has yet to be released, but when it’s live, you can find it here.
As you can see, there’s a lot to love about this quirky celebration. We hope that you’ll stop by this weekend and support our local artists, restaurants, and vendors. For more information, visit the Tomato Art Fest website.
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