Newspaper article Sunshine Coast Sunday (Maroochydore, Australia)

Festival Revives Valley Spirit; the Seeds of Community Success Are Being Planted in the Mary Valley, Writes Angela Norval

Newspaper article Sunshine Coast Sunday (Maroochydore, Australia)

Festival Revives Valley Spirit; the Seeds of Community Success Are Being Planted in the Mary Valley, Writes Angela Norval

Article excerpt

THE humble tomato is said to be one of the easiest plants to grow. Now its goodness is set to put the Mary Valley back on the map with the regional Tomato Festival.

To be held on Saturday, November 30, the festival will be in the same spirit as the pumpkin festival of Goomeri and melon festival of Chinchilla although not quite as messy as Spain's La Tomatina.

The enthusiasm is contagious as Mary Valley residents discuss the upcoming festival and the difference it will make to the area trying to move forward after the devastation of the Queensland Government dam debacle.

And to think the idea came about when a group of enthusiastic home gardeners decided to see who could grow the biggest tomato after acquiring some seeds from America's world record variety.

The competition was so successful they decided to make it an annual competition.

After forming a committee of five, the competition turned into a full blown festival and the rest is tomato growing history.

Festival committee president Josh Hopkins said this was the first festival focused on tomatoes in Australia and the excitement was building.

"The Mary Valley dam decision saw over 400 families leave the valley and when you take the heart out of an area like that it makes a real impact," he said.

"With the strong community spirit of the remaining residents we have room to develop this into a week-long event.

"So far we have at least 90 people growing tomatoes, keen to take out the $2000 money for largest tomato and all the schools are involved and keen to win the $800 prize.

"We are lucky in that the Mary Valley is a fertile piece of land so we have room to come back with our tomato growing and could even branch into the restaurants with gourmet varieties."

Considering the world record in America has been held since 1986 and is a whopping 3.52kgs, Mary Valley residents have got their work cut out for them.

As well as the tomato growing, the festival will also have a series of tomato-based games including bowling and throwing, as well as market stalls, gourmet food stalls, a grand parade, a fashion parade, music and street entertainment. …

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