Junior Berry Wins Tomato Contest
By Craig Brown
Opening remarks for the 2012 Dillon County Tomato Growers Contest were delivered by Club President, Tom Rowland. Tom thanked all of the sponsors for their generous gifts that provided 13 winners with cash prizes along with five cash door prizes and one door prize for a complete oil change. Rowland thanked those who provided the food and refreshments, acknowledging Henry Brunson, Grady Sampson, and Robbie Coward preparing or donating the main courses of the meal. Dora Gasque, Barbara Howle, Maxine Tyndall, and Ann Sullivan prepared some outstanding desserts for those in attendance.
Attendance was slightly off this year, possibly due to the weather, but those in attendance had a wonderful time. Andy Wallace gave the blessing and the 60 members and guest present enjoyed the meal.
After everyone had eaten all that they desired or could hold, Dr. Granville Vance entertained with some very amusing tomato jokes. Dr. Vance also noted that tomatoes were a super food and Junior Berry’s presence was proof of that as he remarked about how spry Mr. Berry was at the age of 92.
I reported last year that the Dillon County Tomato Contest was founded by coffee drinkers at Hardee’s arguing over who could grow the best tomato or, as most people believe, who could grow a better tomato than Junior Berry of Latta. Well this year no one could as Mr. Berry took this honor against some very good tomato growers.
Sadly, Mr. Berry said this would be his last year as he believed that at age 92 he needed to slow down a little but he would always give advice with a cheerful heart to any would-be tomato grower that wanted it.
Eleventh, twelfth and thirteenth winners were announced with no order of placement with, Sherwood “Digger” Thompson, Dick McKenzie, and John McRae receiving the awards.
Clemson Extension Agent Grady Sampson assisted Rowland with the final 10 selections: in 10th-Kromer Stephens; 9th-Henry Brunson; 8th-Bobby Howle; 7th-Paul Moody; 6th-Will Rowell; 5th-James Little Alford; 4th-Tom Rowland; 3rd- Andy Wallace; and 2nd-Pam Sullivan.
Rita Hooker, Jimmy Bethea, Cheryl Vance, Ken Stephens, Dick McKenzie, and Jackie Moody won the door prizes.
Some contestants like Charles Scott always produce good plants but can’t resist the temptation to eat and share their tomatoes before judging day and handicap themselves with fewer tomatoes on the bush to be judged.
County Agent Sampson was asked by Dr. Vance what the judges were looking for when judging tomatoes. Sampson stated that the judges looked for insect free plants with no signs of disease present, poor leaves trimmed away, and quality and quantity of tomatoes on the plants.
Sampson stated that three different judges would likely have placed the winners differently as judging is often a matter of opinion.
The event was closed in prayer and all left with glad hearts with many mentally preparing for next year.