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Farmers’ market hosts tomato, salsa contests

Corey Henderson and Destany Henderson sample salsa at the Texarkana Farmers’ Market annual salsa contest in 2017. (Gazette file photo)

TEXARKANA, Texas — The Texarkana Farmers’ Market has two more daytime markets for the summer season: this Saturday and the next one, Aug. 7, with popular competitions sure to attract top tomato growers.

This Saturday, growers put their monster-sized ‘maters to the test with the annual largest tomato contest, and then to close out the season on Aug. 7 it’s the annual salsa contest with greatness judged in a variety of salsa categories.

“For bringing salsa to the contest, they are going to drop off a sampling of their salsa. We have instructions on the website of how that works, but everything has to be tested this year by the health department,” said Annemarie Sullivan, the market’s cultural foods coordinator.

It’s free and easy, she said, explaining that entrants can simply bring samples to the Texarkana, Texas, City Hall on Tuesday, Aug. 3. If it’s good to go, growers will be able to enter the contest for that upcoming Saturday, Sullivan explained.

Mild, hot, specialty and kids (as in, made by children) are the contest categories this year. The children get their own category because they were popular salsa creators last year.

“We had quite a few entries from people under 18, so we decided to make a kids category,” Sullivan said.

Samples will be available to taste with the public voting on their favorite. They’ll also be available to buy this year, a new thing for the market.

“There will be tons of sampling and then you vote on your favorites and you pick a winner for each category,” Sullivan said.

Tasting and sampling will start at 9 a.m. that day with the market going an hour later than usual to 1 p.m. Sign up for the salsa contest at Texarkanafarmersmarket.com/events.

However, this weekend will bring the big ones to the market — big tomatoes, that is. Sullivan said Dutch Spring Farm will bring Dutch donuts, too. The tomato contest is open to all homegrown (not store bought) tomatoes.

“You don’t have to be vendor. If you want to just come and enter if you have a big tomato, just come and enter it in the contest. Drop it off in the market booth and then we will judge towards the end of the day,” Sullivan said. Typically, entrants are vendors but others can enter if they have grown a good one.

This Saturday’s market will be open regular hours, 7 a.m. to noon with judging starting around 11 a.m.

Sullivan said returning to an open-air market this year has gone well with mostly pleasant weather, strong turnout and new vendors participating.

“It’s been good to get back into the swing of things after last year being really off,” Sullivan said.

They decided to not revive the TXK Mobile Market during the season, but it may return after the open-air market closes. As to a fall season, that would depend on the vendors and if they have produce to sell.

“Thank you from the market managers, and all the vendors really appreciate all the local support, of course,” Sullivan said. “We appreciate everybody making time on Saturday morning and coming to all our special events and everything else that we put on.”

The cultural food markets held several Saturday nights also drew new market-goers, including a recent Cuban night that brought locals with Cuban heritage together. It’s why they do these cultural foods markets, Sullivan said.

“That’s really cool to see,” she said.

(For more information, visit Texarkanafarmersmarket.com or call Annemarie Sullivan at 512-229-7599. The Texarkana Farmers’ Market is located at 305 Texas Blvd.)