SicklesTrifectaJersey-fresh tomatoes, corn and peaches is the main attraction Thursday as Sickles Market celebrates 350 years of farming in the Garden State with a public-welcome community BBQ.  

HOT-TOPIC_03In the event that you missed out on the hoopla last year, New Jersey celebrated its 350th anniversary – and on Thursday, Little Silver’s landmark Sickles Market marks its long agricultural history in the Garden State with a summer BBQ extravaganza that spotlights three colorful guests of honor.

Those welcome visitors are the “fabulous and famous summer trifecta” of Jersey corn, tomatoes and peaches, and between the hours of 5 and 8 p.m., they’ll be the center of attention at a public-welcome event that boasts a full barbecue menu, live music by the Danjos, kids’ activities and a gamut of get-acquainted tasting opportunities by a bevy of local food producers and vendors.

083014 sickles tomato1Three-peat champion Michael Mansfield, seen here with his winning entry in the 2014 Biggest Tomato Contest at Sickles Market, is the top-seeded competitor to beat in this year’s event, scheduled for Saturday.

Those vendors include Aunt Viv’s Secret Stash, Booskerdoo Fresh Roasted Coffee Co., Daisy Chocolates, Fourth Creek Food Co., Gifford’s Famous Ice Cream, Grandpa Baldy’s BBQ Sauces, Juice Basin Organic Cold Press, Natalie’s Orchid Island Juice, Season 1 Blends, Silver Fern Farms Grass Fed Beef, and Treats by Eileen Gourmet Granola. Growers represented include Samaha’s Farm of Holmdel, Circle M Peach Farms of Salem County, and Zone 7, a fresh-from-the-farm distribution service that connects over 300 local farmers to hundreds of chefs and food purveyors in the region.

Stop in to Sickles or call (732)741-9563 to reserve tickets to Thursday evening’s event, priced at $20 per individual adult. There’s a $50 group ticket for a family of four, with each additional child admitted for $10 (children under 3 are admitted free).

Now, about them tomatoes: Saturday, August 22 sees the fourth annual edition of a recently minted tradition at Sickles Market — the Biggest Tomato Contest, competition for which is once more expected to be hot and heavy as a Sunday Sauce (and the stakes, it goes without saying, are high). Three-time winner Michael Mansfield of Oceanport is the top-seeded competitor to beat, as judging takes place in two age groups (adults, and kids aged 5 to 13), with the winning junior champ awarded a Sickles Market Gardening Kit, and the adult category winner presented with a $100 gift certificate.

Contest rules require that a tomato must be presented by the grower, with entries judged by weight only. Think you’ve got an entry that can stand up (and ketchup) to the current record holder of 4 pounds 2 ounces? Register for the Biggest Tomato Contest, by emailing with full name and telephone number.