Celebrating the Hanover Tomato: Blogfest, Part 2Posted: July 10, 2011
As I am with my children, apparently I’ll do anything for Avad Fan. Well, almost anything if it doesn’t interfere with them. In that spirit, yesterday I headed northwest out of the West End in search of the secret to the delicious local Hanover tomato. The idea of enjoying some time in the country celebrating this juicy fruit was mighty enticing – to me and at least 40,000 others who were delighted that the rains had cleared just in time for the annual Hanover Tomato Festival. Almost as soon as I got off at the I-295 exit onto Pole Green Road, I started questioning my devotion as I crawled most of the 3.5 miles to Pole Green Park. Surely, thirty minutes of traffic shouldn’t damper my enthusiasm, so I stayed focused on my mission as I crept on down the road.
When I finally reached the Festival set out in the middle of a large open field in lovely Pole Green Park, I remembered that there would be about 200 vendors. I had assumed most of them would be selling tomatoes in all kinds of forms, as well as other fresh produce. As usual, my assumption was wrong. In fact these vendors were selling almost everything under the sun except tomatoes. The main fair tent in the center of what felt like the midway at the State Fair was about the only place to find tomatoes.
I soon realized there was no hoping of finding a farmer to clue me in on the secret to growing the amazing Hanover tomato. Instead I talked with the folks running the popular Hook & Ladder 43 food stand about the fried green tomatoes that they were cooking up fresh for a long line of customers. Finally, I had found some tomatoes to try. Theirs were sliced thin to cook up fast for their hungry patrons, and I enjoyed some on the way home.
Everyone was as friendly as you would expect in Hanover County. The traffic didn’t dissuade them, and the children were happy with the blow-ups and other games. Grown-ups could shop for outdoor furniture, handmade clothes, replacement windows, insurance and more. It was quite the smorgasbord.
When I realized that I wasn’t going to find the answer to my quest nor more than the one type of tomato, I hurried back to the city and the St. Stephen’s Farmers Market to stock up on what I will need for my blogfest week of the best ways to enjoy the Hanover tomato. Please let me know how you like to enjoy yours.
All photos by Avad Fan.