We're just a few months away from football season, but interest is already building in season ticket and Vol memorabilia sales. New coach Butch Jones has injected a renewed optimism for the future.More >>
We're just a few months away from football season. But already there's been a lot of interest in season tickets and Vol memorabilia. The idea of a new coach has injected a renewed optimism for the future of UT football.More >>
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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) - The world famous Grainger County Tomato Festival is celebrating its 20th anniversary and finding ways for farmers and customers to beat the heat.
For people in Grainger County, their tomatoes are a point of pride. "We have our local produce, and you can't beat Grainger County tomatoes. You cannot," said tomato festival Co-Chair Kathie Self.
"It helps put economy back into our county, needed economy," Self said.
Organizers are trying to prevent temperatures in the 90s from hurting attendance. "Three years ago, we had major heat so we looked into getting misters," Self explained.
There are four misting tents across the grounds and an air conditioned area because farmers like the Stratton family are counting on customers.
The Strattons have been farming tomatoes for three generations. "Probably doing the tomato festival for eight or 10 years now," said Jamie Stratton, with Stratton Farms.
They want to pass that legacy on to the next generation, with a little help from the festival. Stratton explained her husband's approach. "He tries to do this so he can help the kids because they keep most of the profits. It's his way of teaching them values or trying to make money."
It takes a lot of work for this family to get here each year. "Last night, we finished around 11:00 or 11:30 and started loading trucks this morning about 15 til 7:00," Stratton said. "We have people that come back every year, that know our tomatoes the value and the taste, so they come back," she added.
The farmers hope customers won't avoid the festival because of the heat. "Hope they show up and support, because it's a lot of work to set up. There are several farmers who don't do it anymore," Stratton said.
They promise it will be worth it once you taste your first Grainger County tomato. "They're the greatest, best around," Stratton said.
The fun continues all weekend with the Mater Madness 5K run Saturday morning at 7:30 and the Tomato Wars shortly afterward at 10:00.
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