This past weekend I braved the wilds of suburbia, venturing almost as far as public transportation would take me into McLean, Virginia. The goal: to enter my Dr. Carolyn heirloom yellow cherry tomatoes into the NatureSweet Homegrown Tomato contest. The event was, frankly, a little absurd. It was in a parking lot, and there were apparently only 19 entrants. Most didn’t stick around for the actual judging, but simply dropped off their tomatoes with some contact information.
Sadly, I did not make it to the final round, let alone win the $2,500 (!) top prize. They administered a chemical test to find the sweetest tomatoes from among the entries, and only the three entries with the highest sugar content made to the final tasting round. A petty part of me thinks this was not a very good way to do the judging, since sweetness is not the only thing people look for in a tomato. My Dr. Carolyns are delicious, but not particularly sugary. But, alas, those were the rules.
Still, the event got me thinking. It’s too bad DC doesn’t have its own county state district fair. I loved the county and state fairs back where I grew up, and now as an adult I have a hankering to gawk at giant pumpkins or enter a pie contest with some top-secret recipe. And since county fairs are notorious for having a million categories for everything where everyone gets a ribbon anyway, my tomatoes could be “winners” at last!
But really, I think it would be fun. Yes, this is an urban area. I don’t imagine there would be a livestock section at this theoretical fair, and maybe butter sculptures would be inadvisable. But there are lots of gardeners who could show off their produce, and lots of foodies to enter those pie contests. And think of how fun a giant Ferris wheel on the mall would be.