Tomato Art Fest 2016
Some might think the number 13 is unlucky, but for Tomato Art Festival cofounder Meg MacFadyen, it’s just the opposite. With 2016 being the 13th year for the Tomato Art Fest, MacFadyen feels she has a bit of luck on her side.
“I’ve actually always thought of 13 to be a lucky number,” she says. “And I think it’s going to be extremely lucky because auspiciously, it’s the 13th year for our festival and the fest also falls on the 13th of the month this year. And we didn’t plan on that, it just happened. It’s double lucky.”
The 13th annual edition of the festival is set for Aug. 12-13 in 5 Points with a parade, concerts at two stages, food trucks, live art, and plenty of other entertainment to sink your eyes, ears, and teeth into. Last year’s festival drew nearly 45,000 to East Nashville, and MacFadyen says she expects this year’s East Side ode to the tomato to be juicier and riper than ever. The focus for this year’s fest isn’t to make the experience bigger in terms of new attractions, but instead, to make existing attractions better.
“This year we’re not adding a lot of new things, but we’re just really focused on making existing things a whole lot better and improving them,” she says.
For starters, this year’s parade and float competition will be a must-see event. The parade starts at the corner of 13th Avenue and Holly Street and ends in the center of 5 Points. MacFadyen says the float competition was such a hit last year that they’ve decided to carry it on into 2016. “It turned out great last year,” MacFadyen says. “I have a really big soft spot for the parade. It just thrills me, and I love to see the neighborhood turn out for it.” Entries for the parade are limited so participants eager to show off their designs are encouraged to sign up early.
The festivities kick off on Friday at 7 p.m. with the Tomato Art Preview Party and the Tomato King & Queen contest — as well as live music, which runs throughout the two-day event. Jeffrey James, Chrome Pony, Music Band, and Nashville Academy of Rock are among the acts scheduled to perform. The festival rolls on into Saturday with the East Nashville Tomato 5K, beautiful tomato contest, giant ice cream sundae extravaganza, bobbing for tomatoes/tomato toss, a bicycle decoration hosted by Eastside Cycles, YMCA’s Family Fun Open House, vendors, and the parade.
MacFadyen says she still can’t believe how a small event to celebrate local art that began in 2004 grew into a destination festival for Nashville. “It was supposed to be a one-time art festival and here we are 13 years later,” she says.
During those 13 years, the Tomato Art Festival has received praise from Southern Living, Epicurious.com, Travel + Leisure, and CNN, just to name a few. The fest was also voted “Best Festival” from 2007 to 2015 in the Nashville Scene’s Readers’ Polls.
“Expect to have fun,” MacFadyen says. “And I’m working on the weather to be 75 degrees, but I haven’t quite figured out how to nail that down yet.”