The stakes are high once again, as three-peat champion (and top-seeded competitor) Michael Mansfield prepares to defend his crown in the 2015 Biggest Tomato Contest, scheduled for Saturday at Sickles Market.
It’s fast becoming one of the most highly anticipated homegrown competitions of the summer season — an annual event that’s been dominated by a single champion whose reign is ripe for a challenge.
This Saturday, August 29 marks the 2015 edition of the Biggest Tomato Contest, sponsored by Sickles Market and hosted for the fourth consecutive year at the garden center of the Little Silver landmark. With weigh-in time at 1 pm, this is scarcely your run-of-the-mill county fair contest, as three-time winner Michael Mansfield is expected to make another bid for dominance and heavyweight bragging rights. The Oceanport resident’s current record holder of 4.4 pounds pasted the competition last year; leaving all other tomato growers to stew for another season (and vow to ketchup this year).
Jersey-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.
In 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.
For the third year in a row, Michael Mansfield of Oceanport won the the biggest homegrown tomato contest at the annual Sickles Farm Market weigh-in on Saturday, with a 4-pound, 2-ounce giant.
This time, though, Mansfield was “tickled,” according to his wife, Linda, to finally meet 88-year-old Minnie Zaccaria, right, the Long Branch tomato breeder whose hybridized seeds Mansfield uses to grow his juicy monsters.
First prize was a $100 gift certificate to the Little Silver market. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)
Betsy Bryan, above, of Rumson, registers her entry in the annualSickles Market biggest tomato contest in Little Silver on Saturday. For the second year in a row, the biggest-tomato contest was won by Mike Mansfield, in center of photo at right, who took home a $100 Sickles gift certificate. He attributed his success to Bumper Crop, an organic soil amendment. Below: the winning entry, at at 2.36 pounds, was considerably smaller than last year’s monster. (Photos by Sarah Klepner. Click to enlarge)
Natale Siclare, garden manager at Sickles Market in Little Silver, calls out the weight 3.26 pounds of the winner of the store’s annual biggest-tomato contest Saturday. The tomato was home-grown by Mike Mansfield of Oceanport. (Photo by Peter Lindner. Click to enlarge)
One of the championship tomatoes grown by two time winner Mike Mansfield of Oceanport is weighed by Sickles Market garden manager Natale Siclare, in a past edition of the annual Biggest Tomato Contest. Top-seeded contestants will attempt to ketchup with the record when the annual event returns to the Little Silver landmark on Saturday, with LEGENDARY LOCALS author Eileen Moon also on premises. (File photo by Peter Lindner)
The competition is hot and heavy as a Sunday Sauce — and the stakes, it goes without saying, are high — as Sickles Market will once again play host to an event that salutes the end of summer in inimitable Jersey style: the Biggest Tomato Contest. The third annual edition of the popular promotion returns to the Little Silver landmark this Saturday, August 30, with weigh-in time at 1 pm.
Judging will take 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. Mike Mansfield, an Oceanport resident and winner of both previous contests, is the current record holder with a 2012 entry that sagged the scales at 3.26 pounds.