Three Pilot Flying J employees pleaded guilty in federal court Tuesday to charges of conspiracy and wire fraud.More >>
Three Pilot Flying J employees pleaded guilty in federal court Tuesday to charges of conspiracy and wire fraud. Kevin Wallace Clark, Jay Stinnett, and Holly Radford pleaded guilty in exchange for providing information in the case.More >>
RUTLEDGE (WATE) – Preparations are underway for the popular Grainger County Tomato Festival. However, there are concerns about the crop because of the intense heat and other extreme weather so far this summer.
The festival is expected to attract an estimated 20,000 people to Grainger County.
"This has really promoted tourism to Grainger County and the tomato industry," said tomato festival Chair John Beckwith.
Tomato growers like Steve Longmire, owner of Tennessee Homegrown Tomatoes, are gearing up for the festival.
He said the weather in the spring slowed down his harvest, but it's picked up rapidly due to the recent rash of hot weather.
"It made production come around faster than normal, so much faster. Quality has been good, size has, but so many tomatoes got ripe so quick so that put a hurt on us as far as trying to sell them quick," Longmire explained.
The summer has been plagued by very hot temperatures which has devastated corn, hay and other vegetable crops.
"Grandma in the backyard trying to grow her beans and corn are really hurting," Beckwith said.
Tomato growers say their crops aren't being impacted by the hot weather.
Jack Ritter, of Ritter Farms, said a recent stint of rain is hurting the growth of his tomatoes more than dry weather would.
"The rain came on us at a bad time because tomatoes, when they needed to be harvested, they don't need the rain. It causes them rot. It causes them to crack," Ritter said.
Festival organizers said the number or quality of tomatoes won't be negatively impacted by weather. They estimate 4,000-5,000 boxes of tomatoes will be sold.
Admission and parking is free for the festival. All activities begin Friday, July 27 and wrap up on Sunday, July 29.
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