To Market to Market to Buy a Fat Tomato

The Creole Tomato Festival returns for its 30th year.

Ask yourself this: Why wouldn’t New Orleans have a festival dedicated to a tomato? The French Market brings us its 30th Annual Creole Tomato Festival this weekend, June 11 and 12. That’s 30 years of celebrating a particular variety of fruit that is either its own cultivar or a marketing gimmick, depending on who you ask.

Either way, the tomatoes highlighted at this free festival are delicious. Big, juicy and locally grown, the Creole Tomato is the star of the show.

“The Creole Tomato Festival is the city's oldest summer fest at 30 years old,” said Amy Kirk, marketing director for the French Market, which organizes the festival. “It was started to celebrate everything about plentiful seasonal Louisiana produce with the tomato as our mascot! The Fest has grown because the French Market District itself has grown—we now operate Crescent Park so the Fest Main Stage is there this year!”

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With the new addition of Crescent Park, the festival offers even more performances, food areas and kids activity areas, not to mention the beautiful view of the Mississippi River from the park.

This truly is a festival designed to offer something for everyone. Beyond the mainstays of delicious food and brilliant music, there are many activities to participate in and give the visitor the feeling of being part of something bigger than themselves. New Orleans is known for its culture and the Creole Tomato Festival does a tremendous job of making it accessible to everyone.

Saturday morning kicks off with the new Ripe & Ready 5K Run/Walk, which begins and ends at Crescent Park, followed by an afterparty and performance by Mem Shannon & The Membership Band. There is also the Ripe & Ready Rally, where the first 100 attendees who arrive by 10 a.m. at the Old U.S. Mint will receive a free tomato from Ben & Ben Becnel Farms, and then at 10:30 a.m. they will secondline through the grounds led by Dancing Man 504 and Eric “Doc” Griggs.

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Free yoga and “Bounce Ya Brass” dance classes, cooking demonstrations, the arts market, a new Bloody Mary Market and a tomato eating contest each day of the festival are just a few of the special aspects of the festival.

This festival is especially family friendly. There will be multiple areas for kids’ activities this year. A new area will be on the Esplanade side of the Old U.S. Mint as well as at Crescent Park. Also new this year is a much-appreciated “Family Care Station” which will be set up indoors at the Old U.S. Mint. There, parents will be able to access air-conditioned baby changing facilities as well as a lactation station for nursing mamas. And the Crescent City Lights Youth Theater will perform on Sunday and highlight the talented youth in their program with kid-appropriate content. A full schedule of family-friendly activities can be found here.

Food booths have increased to 18 this year, including the addition of Miss Linda the Yakamein Lady’s “Creole Crawfish & Tomato Baked Mac & Cheese.” That alone is reason enough to get out the Creole Tomato Festival.

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Overview: The 30th Annual Creole Tomato Festival will take place June 11 and 12 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. with children’s activities ending at 5 pm. and cooking demonstrations ending at 6 p.m. Music stages and food booths will stay open until 7 p.m. The festival will span four blocks of the French Market District, from Dutch Alley to Crescent Park. You can access a map here and the live music schedule here

 

 

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