WARREN — Parades, pageants, politicians and yes, pink tomatoes could all be found in Bradley County this weekend at the 57th annual Pink Tomato Festival.
The Terry Donnelly family, owners of Deepwoods Farm, dissipated the fear that there would be no tomatoes for the festivities by providing the 50 boxes needed.
The festival officially began on June 1, but the event culminated into a full day of fun and entertainment on Saturday.
Groups of pink tomato fans from miles around lined the streets of downtown Warren to cheer participants in the parade. Eager children watched and waited to catch candy thrown out from the passing floats.
Bradley County royalty could be seen riding in the parade as all of the Pink Tomato Pageant winners smiled and waved at their supporters.
First year pageant winner for Miss Teen Pink Tomato, Ashton Outlaw, talked about her favorite parts of the festival.
“I just like being here and meeting all of the new people,” Outlaw said.
After the parade, the much-anticipated tomato-eating contest got underway. The VIP event was first and several politicians tried their hand at the juicy competition.
Each contestant began with a two-pound bag of tomatoes and was given two minutes to consume as many tomatoes as possible. The big winner for the VIP event was Arkansas Rep. Jeff Wardlaw. This was Wardlaw’s second time winning he event. Coming in a close second was Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel and third place was Republican gubernatorial candidate Asa Hutchinson.
Many other state officials joined in the competition and all had positive words to give to Bradley County and the festival.
“I’ve gone to lots of festivals all over the place and you can be congratulated. This is one of the premier events in Arkansas. It’s a real honor to represent you,” U.S. Sen. John Boozman said.
The Professional Division of the eating contest was next. These enthusiastic individuals suited up to eat five-pounds of tomatoes in three minutes. The top three winners combined consumed nearly 10-pounds of tomatoes in that short time frame.
The festivities continued all day and into the night with a variety of entertainment.
For those not faint of heart, there was a stunt show performed by Southern BMX. Kids could take advantage of the large inflatable slides and bounce houses and even dig for treasure.
There were vendors of every type from food, to clothing, to birdhouses and Myrtle Street was home to the arts and crafts.
Music lovers enjoyed the evening entertainment provided Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers.
With the organized activities coming to an end, the festival went out with a bang as fireworks erupted over downtown Warren.