Do family and friends boast that you make the best fresh salsa of anyone in the mid-Willamette Valley?
A salsa tasting contest with cash prizes and three categories — best all-around, hottest (that you can still eat) and most unusual — will be part of the ninth annual Tomato & Salsa Fest at Timeless Gardens Nursery near Lebanon on Saturday.
The event, which runs from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., also includes a largest tomato contest, raffle prizes, vendor booths, carnival games for kids, cooking demonstrations, special nursery sales and more.
Timeless Gardens Nursey owner Trudie Bason said that she started the fest for a simple reason. When customers bought tomatoes in the spring, they would always talk about the great salsa they made.
“I would even have customers bring me salsa,” she added.
The Tomato & Salsa Fest is free to attend, but salsa contest participants need to pay a $4 entry fee and bring a quart minimum of salsa. They should also arrive early and sign up by 10:30 a.m. the day of the festival.
As many as 30 people have entered the salsa contest in recent years.
OSU Extension Service Master Gardener Lisa Almarode will host a tomato tasting table and she will be able to answer gardening questions. There also will be samples of four different types of tomato foods at the festival.
Vendor booths include Spiritopia Craft Spirits and Ochoa’s Queseria.
The event, which draws about 300 people a year, also is a nice way for Bason to draw potential customers to her business outside Lebanon.
Last year, the Tomato & Salsa Fest wasn’t held due to family issues.
Proceeds from the event go to the Lebanon Soup Kitchen. “They have such a great attitude about feeding people,” Bason said.
Timeless Gardens Nursery has been open for 12 years. “It’s a work of love, really. I love plants,” Bason said.
She and her husband, Dic Bason, live at the nursery property, and he also runs Bason Signs at the same address.
While Bason likes salsa, her favorite way of eating tomatoes, preferably cherry tomatoes, is right off the vine in her garden.
Timeless Gardens Nursery is at 33527 Brewster Road. For more information about the Tomato & Salsa Fest, including additional details on the salsa contest, go to www.timeless-gardens.com or call 541-521-5677.