East Nashville is known for many things — exceptional restaurants, fun bars, fabulous old houses, lost dogs, and a vibrant and vocal community. Since 37206 — and 37216 for you Inglewood dwellers — is bursting with creativity and diversity, it's no surprise this area would embrace an event that celebrates an inanimate object that is a uniter, not a divider.
The Tomato Art Festival, which is celebrating its ninth year, started in the summer of 2004 by Art & Invention Gallery's Meg and Bret MacFadyen. Initially conceived as an art show to celebrate tomatoes — because, really, why not? — the event picked up steam as area residents realized they, too, wanted to celebrate the tomato, even if they weren't quite sure if it was a fruit or a vegetable. (It's a fruit ... I think.)
After years of parades, costume contests, live music, family-friendly events and not-so-family-friendly events — you may want to leave the kiddies at home if you plan to participate in the Bloody Mary Competition at 3 Crow — the festival anticipates crowds of just under 20,000 this year. That's a lot of ketchup.
After the always entertaining Tomato 5K, which happens at 7:30 a.m. for you early risers (a Children's Fun Run is at 7 a.m.), the festivities kick off at 9 a.m. on Saturday with a Second Line Parade starting at Bongo Java in Five Points. Throughout the day — which will likely be scorching, so come prepared — you can bob for tomatoes, check out the Tomato Art Show, compete in a cornhole tournament, or fill up at Nuvo Burrito's Wet Burrito Contest, which is a race to see who can eat a burrito the fastest while they're being hosed down with water. Again, really, why not?
In addition to an eclectic vendor area, there will be tons of food and drink vendors, and booths from area organizations. If your face is starting to resemble an actual tomato and you need a break from the heat, most of the area restaurants have all kinds of tomato-themed fare throughout the day.
Obviously, costumes are encouraged for adults, children, and four-legged family members. Most of the events are kid- and dog-friendly, but check out the complete schedule of events can be found at tomatoartfest.com to be sure.
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