Tomato lovers gathered to sample hundreds of varieties at annual festival

What started out as a gloomy day was brightened by the vibrant reds and oranges of the tomatoes and the bright smiles on people’s faces at the 14th annual Bradford Research Center Tomato Festival on Sept. 6.

Attendees were able to sample over 220 varieties of tomatoes, tomatillos and peppers, a significant increase from the original 25 varieties at the first tomato festival. After tasting the fruits, festival goers ranked them on a scale of one to five. A one rating was saved for the “fan favorites” and five ratings were given to plants that were less tasty. These scores are tabulated and stored at the Bradford Research Center to help gardeners decide which species of tomato to plant for the next year.

“I never realized how many different things could be going on here all at once at the research center,” said Maggie Jackson, a Columbia native. “It’s really cool how they can apply the data to help with things as simple as gardening.”

Andrew Biggs, the superintendent of Bradford Research Center, said the variety of plants and other activities made sure there was a little something for gardeners and foodies alike.

Along with the plant tastings, visitors had the opportunity to listen to expert tips on the best way to grow and prepare the fruit. Wagon tours of the Center provided a chance to learn about other research and events at Bradford.

At the children’s corner, youngsters could sample different varieties of Shatto Milk.

Biggs said that they tried to get as many flavors as they could.

“It’s always a lot of fun to see their reactions to milk,” Biggs said.

Madelyn Warren

About the Author Madelyn Warren

Hello! My name is Madelyn Warren, and I am a sophomore at the University of Missouri. I hail from the booming metropolis of Dawn, Missouri. Dawn is home to exactly 123 people according to Google. Growing up in such a small town meant taking to heart the adage, “it takes a village" and knowing that you would have to drive at least 20 minutes to get to the nearest Walmart. During high school I decided to follow the rest of my family's footsteps and become a member of the Chillicothe FFA Chapter. As a result, I found myself spending most of my time working to develop my Supervised Agricultural Experience. My SAE included raising and selling dairy goats and competing in public speaking contests. Joining the National FFA Organization has helped to cultivate my passion for agriculture, foster my love for communication and led me to serve as a State Officer during my freshman year. I can't wait to see what this semester has in store and hope to dive deeper into agriculture's story at the University of Missouri by writing for the Corner Post!