You can taste, and rate, tomatoes, tomatillos, sweet peppers, hot peppers, and salsa, and more at the 12th Tomato Festival tomorrow: Thursday, September 1, 2016, 4-7 pm, at the University of Missouri (MU) Bradford Research Center. Allow up to 30 minutes for driving—it is a bit out of town (directions and links below) and it is worth it!

Note: The previous superintendent of Bradford Center retired, so this year the festival is under “new management”. Overall, we expect the festival to remain the same, with a few changes. For instance, there has been no mention of a maze this year. Fewer details are available, and we are looking forward to checking it out!

Tip: Get there as early as you can; there will be lots of people. There is a parking lot by the building, some additional parking areas are arranged in the grass around the building, and cars will also end up parking all along the long driveway. If you go after work, say about 5:30 pm, it is worth driving all the way up to look for open spots closer to the building.

What you can enjoy:

  • Tastings: There will be 250 varieties of tomatoes, peppers, and tomatillos to sample—all grown at Bradford Research Center Farm. Rate them if you like, and if you are curious, see the results from last years’ tastings.
  • More Tasting: In the main building: local chefs and restaurants will bring their salsas and related dishes for everyone to try. In the past, this was also a cook-off contest where visitors voted for their favorites.
  • Kids Corner with games and activities for children, including a big tire full of soybeans and corn to play in and different flavors of Shatto Milk to try. Note: We checked the Shatto milk last year, and some of the milks have artificial ingredients and/or corn syrup. If this matters to you, you may wish to check the ingredients.
  • Presentations on the hour. Talks on growing better tomatoes—titles have not been provided this year.
  • New! Tomato sales
  • Features from previous years (which may, or may not, be available this year):
    • Wine tasting, courtesy of the Missouri Wine Board (age 21+).
    • Tomato and pepper plots open for viewing.

The event is held at the MU Bradford Research Center, 4968 Rangeline Rd, Columbia MO  65201-8973 (573-884-7945) [].

For most people, the simplest way to get there is to

  • take the AC exit from Highway 63
  • go east on E New Haven Road
  • follow E New Haven Road about 5 miles, until it ends at S Rangeline Road
  • turn right on S Rangeline Rd and go about 1.3 miles to the farm entrance on the right
  • Parking: It is free, but gets crowded. There is a parking lot around the main building; if that is full, people find parking nearby on the grass or along the long driveway to the building.

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