Without the tomato, we wouldn’t have marinara sauce, V8 juice, Bloody Marys, the logo of the Dutch Socialist Party, the marketing hook of Reynoldsburg, Ohio (“Birthplace of the Tomato”), and George Clooney’s prophetic breakthrough role in 1988’s Return of the Killer Tomatoes! Hear that hush? It’s us giving thanks for the tomato, you tart globe of crimson goodness, you. But it’ll be replaced soon by the din of thousands of lycopene-crazed ’mater mavens descending on East Nashville, in a homegrown event that draws people from across the Southeast. Join in the New Orleans-style second-line band march outside Bongo Java Cafe East at 9 a.m. — it’s a parade, so costumes and festive floral finery are encouraged — then carouse past sunset at Bloody Mary tastings and contests, tomato beauty pageants, tomato tosses, tomato bobs, tomato recipe face-offs, a whole kids’ area with water slides and activities, and fittingly goofy sideshows such as the Faux Paw Fashion Show for pets and Nuvo Burrito’s Wet Burrito Contest (which is much, much weirder than it sounds). As sonic backdrop, there’ll be three stages packed with talent, from Richard DuBois, Evan P. Donahue and The Coolin’ System to Half Brass, Bodhicitta Bellydance and more. Welcome additions this year at the typically sun-baked ceremonies include misting stations and an air-conditioned cool-off area at the nearby YMCA, as well as hand-printed T-shirts bearing Nashville iconography from Adrien Saporiti’s DCXV Clothing (Roman numerals for “615”). Above all, there’s the original impetus for the fest: the Tomato Art Show at the Art & Invention Gallery — to which the city owes a debt of thanks for this annual tomato-centric Mardi Gras. Why, there’s so much to see and do you’ll never (oh dear God smite me before I complete this pun) “ketch-up!” Admission is free, but there’s much to buy: For a full schedule of music and events, see tomatoartfest.com or the guide in this issue.