Walking for the Write-in
Since this is a mid-term election year in Arkansas, public gatherings and parades are rife with candidates scrambling for votes. The Bradley County Pink Tomato Festival parade is no exception. Most candidates are perched on vehicles where they can grin and wave with high visibility. For pure picture fun, this one was the pick of the litter since she hoofed it all the way carrying a big sign. Write-in candidates in this day and time have a dismal record of success, but someone forgot to tell Ms. Percefull. She goes about her way with great exuberance.
Sunday, June 15, 2014
Pine Buff, Arkansas
Just Add Light-Bread, Lettuce, and Bacon.
Fifty-eight years ago, some forward thinking business folks in Warren, Arkansas, had an epiphany when they hatched up the idea of a festival celebrating and touting the glories of their favorite local crop: the pink tomato. They named their event "The Bradley County Pink Tomato Festival" and — at the expense of being trite — the rest is history.
In the decades since, other Arkansas communities, upon observing the success of the Pink Tomato Festival, jumped on the band wagon. Now it seems that everyone and his brother-in-law are putting on festivals. But it all started in Warren. The Bradley County Pink Tomato Festival is the oldest continually running festival in our fair state.
It just so happens that the geography of Bradley County was made to order for raising tomatoes — not the kind that are unceremoniously trucked by the ton to canneries, but the kind that your mama sliced and put on the table. The kind she used to whomp up bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwiches. The kind that attacks your nodes with acidic pleasure. Every year during the second week in June, thousands gather in Warren to celebrate these, the finest of the fine, Bradley County table 'maters.
Hickory Smoke, Pork, Jaws, and Bricks
As I strolled past the giant Jaws inflatable, the aroma of hickory smoke tainted with pork drippings wafted my way, announcing the certainty of a fine lunch. Notice that Warren has opted to keep its brick streets. Not surprising. Anyone who has the gumption to come with the festival idea will apply the same good thinking to bricks.
Though the festival lasts for one week, the main event is still the Saturday at the end — and that’s when yours truly arrived on the scene. I walked past an inflatable Jaws slide about the size of a medium moving van and immediately whiffed the sweet smell of pork and hickory melding their flavors.
Figuring that the best place to start shooting was the parade, I ambled over to Main Street and found the bumper of a box truck, in the shade, to be an appropriate waiting post for the parade. Then I saw some intermediate opportunities as I watched the people waiting to watch the parade.
Dad and Daughter at the Parade
Tattoo guy and his daughter sought shelter from the warming sun under this old store awning. I suspected and later confirmed that the father-daughter bond between these two was strong.
Watchin' from the Shade
During the wait a couple headed toward the awning with their dogs. After a bit, the man went to the street with his camera, while the woman opted for the shade with her dogs.
Miss Pink Tomato
No Southern festival is complete without a Miss this or Queen that, so here is the lovely and charming Miss Pink Tomato 2014. Since objects in motion tend to stay in motion, we all hope that driver-dude does not find it necessary to do a quick application of the vehicle brakes.
Carrying the Little Beauty
Little Miss Pink Tomato is surrounded by great big truck.
A Wise and Considerate Director
The Warren High School band marched and played. The wisdom of their leader to eschew uniforms in the toasty late-spring temperature is commendable. The director (to the right in the shadows) signaled directions to his charges using a drumstick on a cowbell.
Formal and Not So
Less precariously seated than Miss Pink Tomato, Miss Teen Pink Tomato waves lovingly at the crowd. She’s dressed formally while driver-dude has on his finest ball cap and tee shirt.
Taking in the Sights and Sounds
After having about all the parade that I wanted for the day, I repaired to a bench which was part of a courthouse square memorial. At this shady spot, I joined what appeared to be a grandfather, father, and young daughter. The daughter was well behaved but curious at the sights and sounds. Doing his due diligence, her father asked me about the intent of the pictures. My explanation satisfied him. Before I left, tattoo guy, still with his daughter on his shoulders, strolled up and the two conversed as friends, about their daughters.
It's an Ideal Sports Picture.
One of the event's highlights is the Bradley County Tomato Eating Contest. There is a “celebrity” contest, in which the majority of contestants are either a candidate for public office or a sitting elected public official. Then there is the “pro” division for everyone else. Contestants are given a pre-weighed bag of tomatoes, which they are to eat in a given length of time. Winners are determined by the weight left in their respective bags after time is called. This young lady epitomizes the ideal sports picture. You can see the “ball” and her eyes.
A Meeting of Mutual Admirers
One of the vendors, who was in a wheelchair, brought her lion-trimmed Pomeranian to the event. The dog, as good dogs will, is sharing a moment with an admirer. It goes something like this: Dog person sees dog; Dog sees dog person and determines, hey this human is a dog person — and the moment of sharing begins.
Jaws Still Chompin'
And finally, here’s another look at Jaws.
Check out our Pink Tomato Festival gallery by clicking here. You’ll see 47 pictures of the event.
The Pink Tomato festival is well organized, well run, and has a ton of things to do beside what you see here. Find out more at http://www.bradleypinktomato.com/. If you happen to be in the neighborhood the second week in June, the festival is a good bet for a stop.
But wait, there’s more
at Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind.
On the way home from Warren,
I weaved through Cleveland County, Arkansas,
long a honey-hole for pictures.
I was not disappointed. I found this decaying residence, some brilliantly red cannas, and remaining proof of why rural fire departments are a good idea. You can click 'n go right now if you want!