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Senior citizens pick top tomatoes

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By Jimmie Earls

By the time the winners were announced, the entries had been eaten. But that didn’t stop the folks at the Springfield Senior Citizens Center from having fun with their tomato contests. Both red and yellow tomatoes were judged in three categories each: largest, ugliest and first 1-pound.

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The rules of the contest were simple. Contestants could enter any tomato they could find, whether it be at the grocery store, in a neighbor’s garden, or other means. The entry fee was five cents per entry, and seniors could cast votes for one cent.

“It’s something that we’ve had a lot of fun with,” said Bobby Waldridge, who oversaw the contest, along with Ray Chesser. “I thought the turnout was pretty good. A lot of people didn’t even have tomatoes this year because some vines have dried up and a blight problem.”

Although enthusiasm was good for the largest and first 1-pound categories, Waldridge said the most fun seemed to be the ugliest competition because of voter participation.

“At first, everybody was after the largest tomato,” he said. “But I think the ugly category is a lot more fun because the people get to make the choice, everybody gets to vote.”

Taking first place for the largest red tomato was Maxine Elliott, who’s 2-pound, 8-ounce entry edged out second place winner Essie Padgett by two ounces.

The first 1-pound red tomato belonged to Pat Grigsby, while the ugliest red tomato was brought in by Jean Curtsinger.

In the yellow category, Helen Russell swept the competition, taking first place in all three contests.

Flossie Oder received an honorable mention for the best attempt at growing a home-grown tomato.

As a fitting reward, Snappy Tomato Pizza in Springfield provided prizes for all the winners.

Sharon Raymond, coordinator of the senior center, said the next planned competition is a pie-eating contest scheduled for November.

“We just want to let people know that there’s more to do here than just play cards,” said Raymond. “Our numbers are down a little, but hopefully that will change.”

The Springfield Senior Citizen Center, located at 206 South Cross Main Street, serves the seniors and the disabled all over Washington County. For more information on the center, call (859) 336-0909.