Rock ‘n’ Green Tomato Festival returns
By Josher Lumpkin
Photo: Blair Carman and the Belleville Boys perform at the 2013 Rock ‘n’ Green Tomato Festival; photo: Gary Hartman.
This weekend in Miamisburg, you can experience all the fun of a good ol’ fashioned small town jubilee. The Rock ‘n’ Green Tomato Festival, sponsored by MidUSA Credit Union, at Riverfront Park will take place on Saturday, June 14, and will feature activities for the whole family to enjoy.
Founded in 2010 by Miamisburg businessmen Jack Sperry and Ron Holt, the aptly named Rock ‘n’ Green Tomato Festival is a celebration of everyone’s favorite unripe botanical fruit, and will feature rock ‘n’ roll bands playing music all day long, from noon until 11 p.m. The festival will be emceed by funnyman and Dayton City Paper columnist Jim Bucher.
Why green tomatoes?
“Ron Holt, who is the owner of Ron’s Pizza in Miamisburg, had been talking about having a Green Tomato Festival forever, I mean ever since I’ve known him,” Festival co-founder Jack Sperry explained. “Ron said, ‘We really need to have a fried green tomato festival in Miamisburg.’ And I’m like, ‘Why that, Ron? Why do you wanna do that?’ And he goes, ‘Why not?’ And I’m like, ‘Well, that’s good enough for me.’”
“Four years ago we put it together, based on the fried green tomato theme,” Sperry, who is owner of local food legend The Hamburger Wagon, said. “We got some food vendors, merchant vendors, craft vendors, some rock ‘n’ roll bands and we put this festival together down by Ron’s Pizza in Miamisburg, and it was a pretty big hit. Not bad for our first year, and we had a lot of fun.”
So much fun, in fact, that Sperry and the now 81-year-old Holt decided to make the Rock ‘n’ Green Tomato Festival an annual tradition, a slice of down-home Americana as wholesome as a slice of pie – green tomato pie!
This year’s festival will feature a green tomato pie-baking contest, where contestants will no doubt spend hours slaving away over a hot oven, their fingers dusty will all-purpose flour, in hopes of having their recipe declared the best in Miamisburg. Dayton food bloggers Superfry and the Big Ragu will be judging the contest.
Musical acts performing at the Rock’n’Green Tomato Festival this year include The Rejects, B-Caged and Blair Carman and the Belleville Boys. And, if that’s not enough to get you in a rockin’ state of mind, you can be the star of the stage for a few minutes of karaoke.
For the little ones, there will be an animal petting zoo, courtesy of Griffin’s Willow Farms. There will also be inflatable bouncy houses.
If you’d like to give your metabolism a jump start in preparation for all the green tomatoes, there will be a 5k run/walk managed by Key Sports kicking off the event at 10 a.m. New to the festival this year, the 5k will follow the Great Miami River.
“We plan on doing that from now on as an annual event for our festival,” Sperry said.
Think you’ve got the best aim in the Miami Valley? Well then, test your skills in the cornhole tournament. Thirty-two two-person teams participated in last year’s festival, and Sperry would like to see that number surpassed this year. “We have a first place prize of $250; it costs $20 to enter in advance, $30 the day of,” Sperry explained. “It’s a double-elimination tournament and it’s just a lot of fun.” Bags and sets will be provided.
If competitive eating is more your kind of sport, there will be a Hamburger Wagon hamburger eating contest. “That’s always a big crowd pleaser,” Sperry said.
The Rock ‘n’ Green Tomato Festival will even include a celebrity dunk-tank, the proceeds from which will go to the Miamisburg football team. You can aim to soak such Miamisburg celebs as head football coach Steve Channell and others.
There will also be a Green Tomato Queen and a Green Tomato Princess crowned at the festival.
Any profits made from the Rock ‘n’ Green Tomato Festival will benefit Miamisburg high school sports.
If it seems like there will be more to do at this year’s festival than in prior years, it’s because there is. More people are expected to join in the fun than ever before, an upward trend that continues annually. “It’s grown every year,” Sperry said. “We probably had 3,000 to 3,500 people at last year’s festival.”
It is hometown pride that has made the Rock’n’Green Tomato a Miamisburg tradition. “Miamisburg is such a neat place; it’s one of the best kept secrets around,” Sperry said. “It’s a very progressive town. The merchants all work very well with each other, even though a lot of us are in competition with each other. We all help each other all the time. What’s good for one is good for the other. So, we have a really unique camaraderie down here, which in my opinion not that typical in other business communities.
“We have an events listing of probably 75 events happening this summer,” Sperry continued. “We do a lot of stuff down here and this is just one more thing to bring people into small town America, and enjoy what Miamisburg has to offer.”
The Rock ‘n’ Green Tomato Festival sponsored by MidUSA Credit Union will take begin at noon on Saturday, June 14, at Riverfront Park, 3 N. Miami Ave. in Miamisburg. For more information, please visit RockNGreenTomato.com. To register for the 5k, please visit KeySports.com.
Reach DCP freelance writer Josher Lumpkin at josherlumpkin@DaytonCityPaper.com.