The Tomato Art Fest Turns 10
By Joe Nolan

Even if you're the kind of West--sider who rarely crosses the Cumberland, it's likely that you brave the trek once a year to attend the Tomato Art Fest. This year, the happening is celebrating its tenth birthday and - like every year so far - we expect it to be bigger and better than ever!

The whole shebang started in 2004 when Art & Invention Gallery''s Meg and Bret MacFadyen decided to start an art show that celebrated tomatoes. The idea is a bit of a head--scratcher, but that's part of the charm here: The festival has always felt like nothing more than an excuse for the East Nashville and Inglewood neighborhoods to get together and have a good time, and for the massive throngs of attendees whoâTM've been showing up for the last several festivals, that seems to be reason enough.

This year, the festival will get started on Thursday night, August 8, with the crowning of the Tomato King and Queen, while Friday evening will feature the Tomato Art Preview Party at Art & Invention, which always feels like the ripe, red calm before the storm. The real deal starts bright and early on Saturday, August 9, with the Tomato 5K and Kids' Fun Run at 7 a.m. If you are more interested in bloody marys than blisters, you probably should sleep in and arrive just-in-time for the Tomato Parade, which kicks-off at Bongo Java East at 9 a.m. The Tomato Art Fest officially begins at 10 a.m.

As of this writing, the entire Tomato Art Fest schedule has yet to be finalized, but you can expect both tomato- tossing and tomato- bobbing;, cornhole competitions;, art workshops;, a show at Bryant Gallery;, more tomato-centric food vendors than you could, well, throw a tomato at , live music; and tons of food and drink specials at the restaurants in and around the 5 Points area. You also can expect it to be boiling hot out, so call your East- side neighbors weeks before the event to make sure you''ve secured a place to cool down. They always look forward to your annual visit!

Find out more and get up-to-date event info at tomatoartfest.com.