No, that’s not a typo – the tomato-themed celebration held each year at Tallahassee’s Turkey Hill Farm is aptly called a ‘feastival’ because it is just that. The entire day is dedicated to stuffing your belly full of everything fresh.
It started with the freshly plowed dirt road we followed off Baum Road towards the small farm. We entered the festival and had Sharpie tomatoes sloppily tattooed on our hands before venturing towards the table-clothed picnic tables of the farmers market. On the way to the produce, we passed by a row of wildflowers and strawberry plants that were teeming with little bug buddies.
Of course, there were the freshly plucked tomatoes, from golden cherries and black prince ‘maters to green zebra varieties and meaty, dry ones to make sauces with. The first stop I made during the feastival was at the stand manned by Pattie Maney, who grows delicious tomatoes with her husband when she’s not painting beautiful creature art. For $2, she made me the best tomato sandwich I have ever dug my teeth into. I invested in two pounds of her plump little goldens and fatter ones in hues of purple and green.
We met up with our friend Rachel, who is actually related to the owners of Turkey Hill Farm. She gave us a little tour of their impressive garden area, which included peppers, tomatoes, squash, little purple eggplants, and even a noisy flock of geese. We picked a few juicy blackberries, then I somehow ended up back at the market area to buy even more tomatoes. I know, I have a problem.
It was impossible to ignore the paella made fresh before our eyes by a true Spanish woman herself. They made two giant servings – one vegetarian, and one with toppings like mussels, clams, squid, and all the traditional fixings. I was tempted by the seafood option, but ultimately opted for the meatless paella.
The feastival was byop (bring your own plate, and utensils), because the most intense portion of the event was the covered dinner potluck. We were ill-prepared and showed up empty handed, but the other guests more than compensated for our lack of a contribution with towering mounds of homemade goodness.
My plate was smothered in food, and I honestly struggled to clear my helping. Some of my favorite edibles were the fresh pearl mozzarella balls, the gooey cinnamon bun cake, and the savory tomato pie. We all sat in the grass and swatted at bothersome ants while we gorged ourselves on a bounty that rivaled any Thanksgiving spread.
Throughout all of this, there were continuous cake walks that offered a chance to take home some unbelievable baked goods in exchange for a dollar ticket and parading around in a circle while the boys of Two Foot Level cranked out groovy bluegrass tunes. Check out the ultimate prize from the cake walk, a fluffy vanilla masterpiece smothered with fresh fruit and a pistachio crunch.
The 4th Annual Turkey Hill Farm Heirloom Tomato Feastival was one of the best events I have ever attended in Tallahassee. I had a serendipitous afternoon where I got to celebrate my favorite type of produce, and blow all my cash on giant heads of garlic, sweet tupelo honey, and unforgettable paella. If you’re in town, you’d be a sucker to miss the 5th year of this feast.
I leave you with a photo taken by my very own photography wiz, Niko. He probably takes photography more seriously than I do, and loves to snatch my camera to take some experimental shots of random objects. I loved this picture he took of me holding a handful of Pattie Maney’s snack sized tomatoes. The lighting was horrible, but the one of the little stems came out so beautifully. Enjoy!
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