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Tomato Throwdown: Jacksonville, TX vs. Crystal Springs, MS

JACKSONVILLE, April 25, 2013-- Jacksonville, Texas, and Crystal Springs, Mississippi, both grow tomatoes and have a Tomato Fest.  Who has the best and the biggest tomatoes? That question will be answered during the 'Tomato Throwdown’.  The Throwdown is a blind taste of the best and biggest tomato from both Crystal Springs and Jacksonville.

Crystal Springs may have gotten Jacksonville started in the tomato growing business, but Jacksonville farmers have perfected the tomatoes and have made Jacksonville known for the best tomatoes.  Thousands of people attend the Jacksonville annual Tomato Fest just to take Jacksonville tomatoes back to family and friends. One of Jacksonville's local farmers has been growing Jacksonville tomatoes for years and has won several awards by entering his award winning tomatoes in the Best Home Grown Tomato Contest during the annual Jacksonville Tomato Fest. David Claiborne, owner of the The Tomato Shed, is preparing for Tomato Fest as well as the challenge against one of the farmers in Crystal Springs, MS.

A long time ago, two Cherokee brothers-in-law, employed in the Cotton Belt Railroad offices in Tyler, made the acquaintance of an ex-Mississippian who was growing tomatoes on a small scale for express shipments.  Amazed by his season returns in 1896, the railroad men grew determined to sell the tomato idea to their home town community. A decade later, in June 1907, Jacksonville alone shipped 42 cars of tomatoes in one day. Two decades later, in 1917, Jacksonville was the center of a circle with an eight mile radius, producing 90% of all tomatoes shipped from Texas. In 1934, the 100th anniversary of the use of the tomato as food, the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce secretary conceived the idea of making the U.S. more tomato-minded through the observance of a National Tomato Week. Jacksonville was recognized as the Tomato Capital, and in 1941, more than 25,000 people viewed the Tomato Fest Pageantry.

Today, Jacksonville is celebrating the 29th anniversary of the Tomato Fest on June 8, and Crystal Springs celebrates this year’s Tomato Festival on June 29th.

Brett Brewer, Chairman of the Board, and Robin Butt, Tomato Fest Chair, know Jacksonville has the best tasting and biggest tomatoes.  Mayor Sally Garland from Crystal Springs thinks her community has the best and biggest.

Crystal Springs and Jacksonville are over five hours apart, so both communities have agreed to select a location in Shreveport, to settle this challenge and earn the bragging rights of who has the best tastin' and biggest tomatoes.

The battle will take place when tomatoes begin to be harvested for Jacksonville's Tomato Fest, which will be sometime in late May. 

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