Jun. 27, 2022

I NEVER WAS--- 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, a main course, rolls, biscuits, a huge choice of vegetables and the wildest concoction of desserts---I'd ever seen.  And, 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 to 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 sprinkled with 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. But, he quickly-assured me---he’d found a 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 horses I'd ever ridden were wooden and bolted to the floor of the Merry-Go-Round! I appreciated horses as beautiful animals—but always from a safe distance!

I couldn’t forget the time a couple of show-horses were seriously-injured in an Arkansas Parade because they weren’t properly “shoe-ed” to walk on brick streets.  So--there I was--all dressed-up in a fancy gown, high heels, a crown and gloves, expecting to ride on the back of a flashy convertible, and now—I was hearing that--for the 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 could ride the horse because-- I intended to walk in the Parade----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 starving to death at an All-Tomato Luncheon, and now-- I’d reached my limit and--- I was no-longer-smiling.

Seems 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--riding a new John Deer Tractor.  And, I was relieved to learn that my almost-new friend-- “Trigger”-- got to go home-- back to the farm.