Tomatoes, Peanuts and Okra: Festivals that Celebrate Summer's Bounty
From peach festivals to peanut boils, we celebrate the best of the South's homegrown produce all summer long.
One of my favorite festivals is an ode to the humble yet delicious tomato. The Palmetto Tasty Tomato Festival in Columbia, SC celebrates heirloom varieties and the talented gardeners and chefs who grow and prepare them. Despite mid-summer heat and humidity, locals and visitors alike come out en masse every July to taste ripe, juicy slices of the season's finest tomatoes and partake in old-time festival fun, including tomato bobbing, bean bag tossing, face painting and (vegetable) bingo. Local chefs whip up tomato-inspired fare, from the quintessential tomato sandwich to the innovative tomato popsicle.
And for those who prefer a cold beverage and the company of a 21+ crowd, there will be plenty of local brews and signature drinks, including Bloody Marys.
Be sure to check out the Palmetto Tasty Tomato Festival next week: Saturday, July 16 from 4-9 p.m. City Roots Farm in Columbia, SC
Tomatoes aren't the only summer produce worth celebrating! Mark your calendar for two more favorites in SC:
South Carolina Peanut Party, August 12-13, Pelion, SCThe Peanut Party has been an annual local treasure for 35 years, and locals and visitors alike enjoy peanut butter and jelly sandwich eating contests, p-nutty recipe contests, boiled peanuts, festival foods and more.
Okra Strut, September 23-24, Irmo, SC For 43 years and thousands of servings of fried okra, the Irmo Okra Strut has been a hallmark of the community. The event draws between 55,000 and 60,000 people annually for delicious food and fun, and money raised by the festival goes back to the community through charitable contributions to civic and school organizations.