Tomato lovers: Feast on food and brews at the Feastival

by Tallahassee Table
What to look for at this year’s fundraiser for the nonprofit Red Hills Small Farm Alliance

Once a year, Tallahassee pays tribute to the beloved tomato, and to the vibrant farming community that produces a bounty of fresh food and local products. An event that started as a small backyard potluck in 2005 has grown into the Tomato Feastival, a major attraction and fundraiser that last year drew more than 1,000 attendees.

Goodwood Museum & Gardens is now the setting for the Tomato Feastival. Photo credit / Tallahassee Table

The 19th Tomato Feastival takes place on Sunday, June 9, from 2 to 6 p.m. at the Goodwood Museum & Gardens

Farmer Louise Divine launched the event nearly two decades ago at her Turkey Hill Farm as just a friendly gathering.

The event “grew in an organic way from tomato growers to friends of tomato growers to people who like to eat tomatoes,” said Louise, co-owner of Turkey Hill Farm with her husband, Herman Holley. “I think that’s the best way to grow something.

“People fall in love at the tomato Feastival,” Louise said. “I’ve never seen anyone fall out of love there. And our farming family has gotten bigger.”

Katie Harris, co-owner of Full Earth Farm, left, and Louise Divine, co-owner of Turkey Hill Farm, are two of the original founders of the Red Hills Small Farm Alliance. Photo provided

That’s largely due to the growth of the Red Hills Small Farm Alliance, which was created in 2010 by four women in agriculture in Tallahassee: Louise Divine, Katie Harris, Malini Ram Moraghan and Mary Russ

The Alliance is a 501c3 nonprofit organization that works to support our local farms, food producers and to expand food access in our community. The Feastival is the main fundraiser for the farming group.

Family-friendly celebration

When hundreds of people started turning up at Louise’s backyard to celebrate the tomato, the event was moved to Goodwood Museum & Gardens, but it still exudes the atmosphere of a neighborly, family-friendly celebration.

“What makes this particular festival different from others is that these are strictly Red Hills producers,” selling their products at the event’s farmers’ market, said Kiona Wagner, co-owner of Rocky Soil Family Farm in Monticello and a member of the Feastival committee. “They are all local farmers who live within a 100-mile radius.” 

The Feastival enables farmers and customers to meet each other and “to put faces with names. It’s an amazing opportunity to highlight local agriculture,” said Kiona, whose husband, Chris, will be making bruschetta, using local tomatoes, for the event.

Chris and Kiona Wagner, owners of Rocky Soil Family Farm, in Monticello with their twins, who are now 4 years old. Photo / The Wagners

The Wagners are among the farmers who are part of the Red Hills Alliance. They grow eggplant, carrots, squash and zucchini and sweet Italian peppers among other crops at their Monticello farm. The Wagners have also taken over the hand-mill grits business that was formerly Bumpy Road Grits. Chris Wagner, with a background as a chef, also makes prepared foods and baked goods offered at farmers’ markets, the Community Co-Op Market and the Red Hills Online Market

Connecting residents, farmers

The online market is one of the Red Hills Small Farm Alliance’s major projects, connecting residents who pay a small yearly fee with local producers. All the items sold on the market come directly from farm/producer to table. 

The online market has grown to more than 100 farmers who sell locally grown produce, milk, meats, cheeses, baked goods, plants, juice, granola, honey, mushrooms, prepared foods and artisanal items. 

The Red Hills Small Farm Alliance will have information on signing up for the online market at the Feastival, said board member, Sharon Kelly.

Tomatoes up for competition in a previous Feastival contest. Photo / Tallahassee Table

Among the many activities at the event: 

  • Tomato contests. Anyone can bring their homegrown tomatoes to compete in these categories: ugliest, best-tasting and largest tomatoes. The prizes: bragging rights and a blue ribbon. Judges this year include Tyler Bailey, chef at Liam’s in Thomasville, and an 8-year-old tomato lover.
  • A farmers’ market with more than a dozen vendors selling tomatoes, a variety of local food and other products. 
  • Live music by the band, the Fried Turkeys.
  • A raffle of local food, arts, products and services.
  • A silent auction of higher-value local items.
  • A cakewalk and bake sale. 

  The bake sale is an added attraction this year, along with some special delicacies for the Cake Walk and raffle, said Mira Beattie Maciejewski, who is hosting the cake/bake sale.

A sweet addition

“We’ve procured several cakes from local businesses to add to the raffle,” Mira said. “Sweet Pea Cafe, Tasty Pastry, Hopkins Bakery and Eatery donated a cake. And Sylvia (Gould) from Kool Beanz, we are honored, will be adding her support with a cake. We’ve got 12 lovely homemade cakes ready to be won for the cake walk!”

 Aside from cake, visitors will find plenty of food – most of it tomato-inspired–  at the Feastival. 

Jessica Bright McMullen and her daughter Madeline selling their homemade tomato pies at a previous Tomato Feastival. Photo / Tallahassee Table

Chef Jessica Bright McMullen started making tomato pies for the Feastival when it was a backyard gathering at Turkey Hill Farm. 

Celebrating the season

“I love the Tomato Feastival because it’s a gathering of our local agricultural community as well as local food enthusiasts to celebrate our season’s harvest of tomatoes and other things,” said Jessica, owner of KitchenAble Cooking School.

Jessica has also been teaching classes on making tomato pies and other tomatoey products at KitchenAble to celebrate the Feastival and the tomato. Her  next tomato and pie class is on June 11.

This year, The Prepared Table and Browns Kitchen also offered tomato-inspired cooking classes.

When at the Feastival, queue up as soon as you can for the food of your choice because the lines can get long. Options include:

  • Tomato pies and gourmet iced tea, made by Jessica Bright McMullen. Her daughter, Madeline, is making chocolate zucchini cake. 
  • Classic Southern tomato sandwiches prepared by Tupelo’s Bakery & Cafe.
  • Bruschetta from chef/farmer Chris Wagner of Rocky Soil Family Farm.
  • Fresh oysters from OysterMom and Stanish and Minter Oyster Co. or S&M Oyster Co.
  • Fried green tomato sandwiches from the Community Co-Op Market.
  • Ice cream from Lofty Pursuits.
  • Caprese Chicken Sandwich with tomatoes from the Green Gate Olive Grove.

Photos: Top center, Chris Wagner with his homemade bruschetta; tomato sandwiches prepared by Tupelo’s Bakery; and OysterMom (Photos / Tallahassee Table)

With June’s sizzling heat, stations for craft beer have become especially popular as cooling off spots during the afternoon event. Take your pick of these brewery stations. All are based in Tallahassee except for Tvelo Brewing Company, which is located in Thomasville. 

Oyster City Brewing Company, seen here in a previous Feastival, will be one of seven breweries at the 2024 Tomato Feastival. Photo / Tallahassee Table

Louise is still inspired by the way the Feastival has changed and grown over the years.

 “I plant one tomato seed and I get 40 tomatoes,” Louise said. “It’s like magic. The Feastival is like that. It’s pretty magical.

Different varieties of tomatoes sit on a tasting table at the annual Tomato Festival at Turkey Hill Farm in Tallahassee, Florida on June 10, 2012. Photo / Tomato Feastival

If you go … 

The Tomato Feastival is from 2 to 6 p.m. Sunday, June 9 at Goodwood Museum and Gardens, 1600 Miccosukee Rd.

Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for children between 12 and 17, $25 for a family ticket (families with kids up to 17 years old). You can buy tickets at the gate. Raffle tickets can be purchased for $5 each or 5 for $20. Food can be purchased separately. Visit to buy tickets or to find out how to become a sponsor. 


  • Bring a cooler if you’re going to buy food from the farmers’ market.
  • Bring a sun-screen, a  hat and a lawn chair or blanket.
  • Feastival goers are asked to park at nearby Ghazvini Center at 1528 Surgeons Drive. Handicapped parking at Goodwood.

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