I HAVE NO DESIRE TO BE A "HOT TOMATO"!
When the invitation came to appear at the Warren Pink Tomato Festival, I wanted to decline but—as the reigning Miss Arkansas-- if my calendar showed I was “free” on that day, I had no choice but say “yes”. It was an all-day event that started with an all-tomato luncheon!
I’ve loathed tomatoes since childhood, when my always-angry mother forced more-than-a-few down my throat. She did the same with watermelon and, even today, I can’t stand the look or smell of watermelon.
I arrived at the luncheon and tried to smile while looking at the luncheon’s abundant display of drinks, appetizers, the main course, rolls, biscuits, a huge choice of vegetables and the wildest concoction of desserts---I'd ever seen. Just as I’d feared, everything on the menu contained tomatoes. Tomatoes were everywhere; tomatoes were mixed in, around, and on top of everything to eat and drink.
The idea of a chocolate chip/tomato cookie still makes me gag. I feel nauseous even talking about the tomato juice/ice cream dessert covered with whipped cream and grated tomatoes. That was a horrible day for me. It was a very-hot day and I desperately needed to eat and drink something to sustain me. There was absolutely nothing I could eat or drink that hadn’t been kissed by a tomato!
After lunch and before the nighttime event when I would crown Miss Pink Tomato, I still had to endure a parade. The parade director found me standing-ready to climb aboard the only convertible in the parade area—a red corvette. I listened as the director explained that the reigning Miss Pink Tomato’s convertible had engine trouble so she would be riding atop the red corvette originally-assigned to me. He urged me not to be disappointed because he’d found a much-more impressive way for me to lead the parade.
One of the Town’s professional horse-trainers was donating his prized stallion for me to ride in the Parade. In fact, for the first time in Tomato Festival History, a Miss Arkansas would be leading the historic parade on a horse!
What?!?!?!? I knew nothing about horses! The only horse I'd ever ridden was wooden and bolted to the floor of the Merry-Go-Round! I appreciated horses as beautiful animals—but always from a safe distance!
I easily remembered the time several show-horses were seriously injured in an Arkansas parade because they weren’t correctly “shoe-ed” for brick streets. So...there I was… all dressed-up in a fancy gown, high heels, crown and gloves, expecting to ride on the back of a flashy convertible, and now…was being told--for the first time in my life--I was going to ride side-saddle on a very tall stallion who'd be walking on Warren's all-brick Main Street. Without hesitating, I told the Parade Director he'd be riding the horse because I'd be leading The Parade--on foot (in front of the horse, of course).
It had been an extremely-long day with temperatures in the nineties. I’d been photographed--smiling--in baking-hot tomato fields; smiling-- while being brutally starved-- at an all-tomato luncheon and now--I’d reached my limit; I was no-longer smiling.
The Parade Committee had to start the parade a little late that afternoon because the current Miss Arkansas was being a little "difficult" but--- everything ended on a happy note.
As originally planned, I led the parade sitting on the back of the red Corvette---Miss Pink Tomato followed (at the end of parade)driving a new John Deer Tractor--- and my almost-new friend “Trigger” got to go home, back to the farm.