Tasty tomatoes on tap for a Labour Day food extravaganza

In Spain, tomato festivals can be excuses for food fights that leave streets, and people, smeared with juicy red pulp.

Around here, things might not get as messy, but Tomato Extravaganza! still promises to get people excited to celebrate the red, orange, or yellow orbs.

The festival, to be held at the Enjoy Centre in St. Albert on Monday, is in its second year. 

"This is a fabulous area for raising tomatoes, so why not celebrate them?" said organizer Donna Bagdan, from the Edmonton Horticultural Society, speaking on CBC's Edmonton AM.

"We yield so many tomatoes because of our climate. It really is perfect here."

For those whose green thumbs failed them this growing season, the event promises "tomato talks" with tips on how to produce tasty tomatoes next year.

If your green thumb turned up something weird, rather than delicious, there will be a tomato competition.

There are also recipe demonstrations, and many, many tomatoes to check out.

"What makes tomatoes so special is the variety of taste, because when you get some of these heirloom tomatoes, they have a very different taste from what you get at the grocery store," Bagdan said.

"It's a night-and-day difference."

Bagdan was inspired to start the tomato festival when she discovered that a local greenhouse produces 73 varieties of heirloom and hybrid tomatoes.

The festival will also give home gardeners the chance to donate tomatoes that might not make it into a jar of sauce or a bottle of salsa. 

The extra tomatoes will be donated to the Edmonton Food Bank, and will be either included in hampers for families or used by food bank chefs who cook huge batches of food for donation.

One company, Bagdan said, is slated to donate 136 kilograms of tomatoes.