Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Red Fire Farm Delivers a Colorful and Tasty Tomato Festival for All

Tomato Festival Red Fire Farm Granby MA New England Fall Events
Tomatoes of every stripe and flavor
by Deb Wojcicki / New England Fall Events

We're at the height of tomato season here in New England and in celebration of this succulent gift, New England Fall Events visited the 16th annual Red Fire Farm Tomato Festival last weekend in Granby, Massachusetts.

Visit the 2016 Red Fire Farm Tomato Festival on Saturday, August 27th, 2016. Click for details.

As food-centric as we are, nibbling on dozens of varieties of heirloom tomatoes sounded like an appetizing way to spend a warm summer afternoon - and it was. Not just devoted to all-things tomato, this family-friendly event had an assortment of vendors of everything from clothing and jewelry to cat toys; a play area for the wee ones including a bounce house and face painting; live music; LOTS of food and even a museum of sorts featuring "the vegetable freak show" where misshapen vegetables amuse and amaze.

Tomato Festival Red Fire Farm Granby MA New England Fall Events
L to R: Red Fire Farm in Granby, MA, Vegetables for sale at the farm stand, Lines for vendors and food.

The festival ran from noon until 6 p.m. and admission was $5.00 (kids under 10 are free). With your five bucks you are treated to unfettered access to the 
festival, including the tomato tasting, guest chef tent, workshops, kids games and of course the farm stand. The only things that will cost you extra are things you may wish to purchase, like lunch or something from the farm stand or other vendors.

Tomato Festival Red Fire Farm Granby MA New England Fall Events
L to R: The line for the tasting, Sign for the vegetable "freak show", Unusually shaped vegetables on display for amusement

Tomato Festival Red Fire Farm Granby MA New England Fall Events
Dozens of tomato varieties to sample
The line for the tomato tasting was long, but moved quickly and hungry visitors were rewarded with table after table of over 100 varieties of tomatoes to sample. A small army of farm staff busily chopped tomatoes to keep the tasting tables well-stocked; favorites could be purchased at the farm stand after the tasting. 

We came home with several varieties, but the green and black zebras ended up being our favorite - super sweet and deliciously juicy. We took photographs of the tomatoes we purchased in front of the signs identifying their variety - this made it easier to remember what we bought after we brought the bounty home.

Tomato Festival Red Fire Farm Granby MA New England Fall Events
L to R: Farm fresh vegetables on the grill, Red Fire Farm property, Handmade dresses for sale.

We spent about 90 minutes at the festival, but you can easily spend the entire afternoon if you want to take full advantage of all the free workshops and chef presentations. This year, these included Make Your Own Salsa - For Kids!, How to Cook for Picky Eaters and Medicinal Uses for Culinary Herbs. And of course, you could also spend some quality time just sitting on the lawn, listening to music and having a bite to eat... roasted corn on the cob, grilled sausages topped with peppers and onions, wood-fired pizza, basil pesto pasta, and of course, homemade ice cream.

The event was very well run, the staff and vendors friendly and there was plenty to keep everyone entertained. The farm stand gets a bit crowded as pretty much everyone seemed to want to go home with tomatoes, but otherwise the event is open and stroller- and wheelchair-accessible. 

Tips for Attending Red Fire Farm Tomato Festival
Flower Crowns Tomato Festival Red Fire Farm Granby MA New England Fall Events
Flower crowns made to order
  • This event is held rain or shine, so bring hats, shades, sunscreen, umbrellas or raincoats, depending on the forecast. There are some indoor areas as well as vendor tents, but essentially this is an outdoor event.
  • If you or a member of your party is mobility-challenged, ask one of the parking attendants for assistance. There are a limited number of spaces that may be available for you to park closer to the event or if not, they may be able to facilitate drop off/pick-up.
  • Parking was free but depending on which lot you find space in you may have a bit of a hike to get to the farm. Fear not though, there was plenty of vehicular turnover so a bit of perseverance should get you into one of the closer parking areas.
  • Comfort stations are available in the form of porta-potties. There appeared to be an ample number of them as we didn't see any lines of people waiting to get in. However, as there is no running water, you may wish to bring some pre-packaged moist towelettes for your hands.
  • Admission is paid "at the door" (no advance ticket sales). However, if you are a Red Fire Farm CSA or Farmstand Member, you get two free admissions to the festival per share/membership.
  • Many vendors take credit cards as well as cash and there is an ATM in the farm stand. 

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