Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Tomato Festival ~ Farmers Market ~ Kamloops, BC

Saturday morning means Farmers Market for many in Kamloops and this Saturday was no exception.  The weather was perfect with sunshine and great temperatures to visit the market and all that is going on, including the Tomato Festival.
A sign for Farmers Market is over the entrance to the Stuart Wood school
Farmers Market in Kamloops, BC
Kamloops is known for its cattle industry, among others but did you know it was once known for the tomato industry?  For over 50 years, locally grown tomatoes and the canning industry were very important in Kamloops. 
Many people at the Farmers Market gather for the tomato festival
Crowds gather for the tomato festival in Kamloops
Many gathered to visit the second annual Tomato Festival held at the Farmer’s Market.  This is a fundraiser for the TRU Friends of the Garden and focusing on the fact that tomatoes play a major role in our agricultural history, it sounds like a perfect fit.

The judges are at the table with the entrants for the tomato festival
Judges Maria Valana and Shirley Wells
The judges Maria Valana, Shirley Wells and Ernest Philips had the challenge of determining the winners of the 60 varieties of tomatoes, some of which I had never seen before. Who knew there were so many varieties of tomatoes?
several people line up to do the taste test of tomatoes
Sampling the varieties of tomatoes
A donation given allowed visitors to taste the varieties on display and there was a steady stream of them ready to taste those delicious looking tomatoes.  For an added donation, visitors were able to sample tomato recipes from restaurants in the area, as well. There were several experts on hand to answer questions about gardening or preserving the tomatoes, a perfect opportunity to learn as they are the ones with the answers.
A table of tomatoes on display for samplimg
60 varieties of tomatoes offered for sampling
The areas we now know as Brocklehurst and North Kamloops were once mainly orchards and for added income the orchardists would grow vegetables between the rows of trees.  During the early 1900’s the best way to preserve these foods was canning so by 1915 a cannery opened in North Kamloops and by 1917 it was canning 20,000 tins of Kamloops tomatoes per year.

Varieties of tomatoes show entrants for the competition
Entants in the Tomato Festival in Kamloops
Until the mid ‘50s, food processing was the third largest industry in BC after forestry and mining and Kamloops had two of the 15 tomato canneries of BC.  The industry had several changes in Kamloops over those years and the last cannery, owned by the Skelly family closed in 1959 after 44 years of operation.
Table full of flowers in vases and lots of honey for sale
Honey and Flowers for sale at the Farmers Market
Several other vendors participate weekly in the Farmer’s Market and the crowds are able to take advantage of locally grown produce, flowers and other special foods.  This sunny day made it even better to enjoy all that is offered at the market.  More information on the Farmers Market is given in a post from the past.
The school yard is filled with tents of vendors selling their wares
Vendors at Farmers Market in Kamloops
There are several vendors with their talents on display and for sale from art to jewelry to Sandi’s Biscotti and more.  It is great to know that there are so many talented people that makes it possible to buy locally and support our economy.  The Farmers Market has long been a way for them to be known and a great opportunity for new artists, too.

The vendors tents shown on St. Paul St.
Overview of Farmers Market on St. Paul St. in Kamloops, BC
It is difficult to find information on the Kamloops canning industry of the past but I did find an article in “Kamloops, One Hundred Years of Community 1893-1993”.  John Stewart, the author of “The Rise and Fall of the Canning Industry in Kamloops” had some great information that I referred to for this blog.

A great place to visit in Kamloops and another reason to say there is no place like home.