LITTLE SILVER: VYING FOR TOP TOMATO

tomatoThe 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).

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LITTLE SILVER: SICKLES

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.

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LITTLE SILVER: SEEDS OF A TOMATO DYNASTY

083014 sickles tomato1083014 sickles tomato3For 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)