Back in June, I wrote about the legend of Col. Robert Gibbon Johnson, the man who proved that Jersey tomatoes were safe to eat. Inspired by that event, the Salem Tomato Festival will be held Aug. 21 from 11 AM to 4 PM. It will take place in downtown Salem

If you’re unfamiliar with the legend, at one time, tomatoes were believed to be poisonous and therefore, unfit for human consumption. Col. Johnson, a noted horticulturist, had introduced the tomato to the region; according to the (disputed) legend, on June 28, 1820, Col. Johnson ascended the steps of the Salem County courthouse and addressed a crowd estimated to be about 2,000 people about the virtues and history of the tomato.

He then picked up a tomato from the basketful next to him and took a bite; legend has it that a woman screamed. There was a physician on stand-by just in case.

As part of the festival, a reenactment of that event will be held; in addition, according to the festival’s Facebook page, there will be: Food trucks, the tremendous DJ Jason Reese, the Best of South Jersey winning band To The Max, and the reenactment are ready to go. There will also be an all ages art contest hosted by the Salem Art League displayed at the old Salem Courthouse, a tomato competition and a tomato toss.

In addition to the festivities, a variety of vendors and non-profits will be set up on Market St.

The event is free to attend.

The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Bill Doyle. Any opinions expressed are Bill Doyle's own.

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