Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Webb City Sentinel column - 7-13-12

And the tomato contest winners are –

Best Red Tomato – Fairhaven Berry and Produce, Harwood, Mo

Best Other Color Tomato (in this case, yellow) – Green’s Greenhouse and Gardens, Galena, Ks

Best Small Tomato (the chocolate cherry won for the second year in a row) – Fairhaven again!

Heaviest Tomato, weighing in at 2.35 pounds – Frederickson Farms, Carl Junction
Weirdest Tomato – Fairhaven one more time.

Fairhaven wins Weirdest every year because Carrole Palmer takes her contests very seriously. She always keeps an eye out for a curious tomato with a “face” and decks it out with a little straw hat or some other prop that makes it stand out. The Weirdest Tomato contest is always customers’ choice and this year Carrole’s tomato won every single vote.

Our thanks to judges Mike Wiggins of Granny Shaffer’s, Chef Scott Teal of the Holiday Inn and tomato connoisseur Bill Perry. (that's Bill on the left, Scott on the right.)

Now that Tomato Day and 4th of July are over we can get back to our every day routine at the market. Routines like William Adkins playing and singing easy listening favorites along with his original songs today. Bill has only been playing the guitar for about four years but sounds like he was born with one in his hands. Lunch today is ham and beans with fried potatoes, cornbread, drink and dessert for $6. As always, Granny Shaffer’s will also have chef salad and slices of pie available.

The main event today will be the crowd. We’re expecting a big one with the Globe food feature Wednesday on Lady Abigail’s pies and with a cooking segment on KOAM yesterday featuring peaches. I made John Pate promise to bring me LOADS of peaches this weekend before I was willing to even mention the word “peaches” on air.

So I expect it to be very busy for the first half hour of market today. After that hopefully the parking and the crowds will ease.

Tomorrow has even more going on, beginning with free streetcar rides from 9 to 11. Be sure to say thanks to the driver and conductor. They are volunteers and have put in an enormous amount of effort in bringing this delightful Webb City treasure to life.

Trish Reed, who catered the Friday meals last year, will demonstrate how to make and preserve pickles. She’ll also have samples of that cool summer dish, cucumber and onions. The reason for two dishes is that the food code doesn’t allow us to give samples to the public of privately made pickles. Training at a special school and a canning permit is required. But we could hardly have a cooking demo without samples, so we’ll have a related dish that we can sample legally.

Tomorrow is also our Art Market and the Joplin Business Women will be on hand selling their all metal knives and spatulas. I loaded up on them last time they came. Don’t tell anyone, but all my nieces and nephews are getting knives and spatulas for Christmas this year. How great is that – already done with some of my shopping!

Center Creek Bluegrass will play tomorrow and while they take their break Sadie’s Dollar will make their market debut. This young foursome sings gospel and contemporary pieces. Center Creek is generously providing their sound system along with guidance. It rather mirrors the market’s attitude as a whole.

We encourage mentoring. The market has partnered with our most experienced and successful growers and with Extension for over five years in training our less experienced farmers in best agricultural practices. Last year on farm visits I began to see many farms incorporating the training into their fields. But this year has been even better. Last week our inspection team visited three farms and saw, for the very first time, drip irrigation in action on those farms. Previously they either had no water in the fields or were trying to use small sprinklers. In the summers we’ve been having lately, the former was a disaster and the latter was extremely inefficient and ineffective. An added disadvantage is that getting the plant wet can lead to increased pest problems. It’s far better to water the root zone.

At all three farms, we saw high value crops looking remarkably good despite the drought and high temperatures.

There’s plenty more training to be done and we’re already working on this winter’s program, but it was wonderful to see everyone’s efforts bearing fruit.

Another market project, the mural, is bearing fruit downtown at the intersection of Broadway and Main. The market mural celebration will be Saturday, July 21, at 7:30 pm. Center Creek Bluegrass will play. Refreshments will include cookies like those Bill McLaughlin enjoyed sharing with children when he was at the market. Bill is the only officially recognizable figure in the mural. Kyle McKenzie, our lead artist, actually used photos provided by the family to capture his profile. All the other figures are supposed to be generic, although the bee keeper is a dead give-away and a couple of others are pretty easy to spot.

Kyle has been given a hard time by some because he didn’t include me in the mural. I told him not to, but have since reconsidered. I’m claiming one of the bees as my image because I like to stay busy. Be sure and bring your camera to the celebration and capture your image “in” the market.

Tuesday we’ll have our usual menu of hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken salad sandwiches and chef salads. Rob Pommert will play. Vickie Fuller, culinary arts instructor at Monette, will demonstrate a good-for-you recipe on Tuesday.

If all these things don’t tempt you to come to the market, let me just mention – the melons are in!