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“A world without tomatoes is like a string quartet without violins.”

— Laurie Colwin

Friends, summer isn't over yet. As if to answer an unspoken prayer, this weekend brings us a way of keeping the dream of summer loving alive. Simply head downtown today and you will find yourself enjoying the tail end of the 32nd annual CNY TomatoFest.

Now I'm not being snarky at all when I say I love the TomatoFest. It's a celebration of culture and community that's themed around, of all things, the noble tomato. Why the tomato, you may ask? Beats me, and frankly, who cares? It's a party, and isn't that all we really need to know? There are animal and reptile exhibits that will keep your kids excited, and for the adults there's live music to be heard.

Another great thing about this festival is the food. Though, outside of ketchup, you might not find many tomato-inspired dishes that doesn't mean you can't find mouth-watering cuisine just the same. Like an old fishing joke, eating a decent hamburger on Genesee Street is always better than having a great day at work so dig in.

Fun fact; did you know that tomatoes aren't vegetables? Nope, they're a fruit. Not that anyone is really keeping score on the issue, because no matter what your level of culinary skill no one is ever going to put tomatoes into ambrosia. And don't expect Dole to start producing fruit cups filled with nothing but tomatoes anytime soon, which in my opinion is a good thing. I'm all for healthy living, but I've never made friends with the red and ripe vegetation. I think for me it's a texture thing. I mean, the skin has a bit of strength to it, but after that it's just crimson slime and seeds. So thank you, but no thanks.

I do however love all things made from Beefeaters. From sauce to soup, once a tomato is diced or sliced suddenly I start to consider it a comfort food. I don't know what that says about my psyche, but it's just the way I'm wired I suppose. Food aside, the spectacles are truly amazing. The Puppet show is a sight you'll be talking about for days after. And where else I ask can you learn the mystical art of Chia Pet creation? Downtown, that's where! Taught by the Girl Scouts.

Just about the only thing missing from TomatoFest that other tomato themed festivals, like La Tomatino in Spain, have is an annual food fight. Imagine the spectacle where participants spend an hour or two throwing thousands of crushed tomatoes at one another. Honestly, this is a tradition I wish we'd start here in Auburn, because it just sounds like a laugh riot. And we already have the State Street divide available to stage a gallant volley.

Maybe I'll attend a board meeting this coming year and bring up the topic. In the meantime I'm going to keep grooving on summer's vibe and enjoying the outdoors no matter what the reason — or the fruit.

Auburn native Bradley Molloy's column appears here each Sunday. He can be reached at