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Tomatoes to star at High Hand festival

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A festival celebrating local tomatoes is coming to downtown Loomis. High Hand Nursery will host a Tomato Gathering from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 21, and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Aug.22. Taste tomatoes direct from the farm, and pick your favorites. Growers will also offer tastes of tomatoes in salads, with sauces and in some of their favorite summer dishes. Contests open to professional and home gardeners include best in show (best taste), biggest in show, ugliest tomato – any variety, prettiest tomato/most perfect, best cherry tomato and tallest plant (documented by photos with human scale included). Professional growers will be judged on Saturday, and home growers on Sunday. Cooks can enter the best salsa and best tomato recipe, to be judged Saturday. The High Hand Tomato Gathering opens with a tomato-themed food and wine pairing dinner created by Chef Randy Kliewer at the High Hand Conservatory at 5:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 20. The Placer County Vintners Association will provide wine tasting prior to the dinner and auctioneer Dan Macon of Flying Mule Farm will call a live auction. Tickets are $75. The dinner will benefit PlacerGrown, the Blue Goose and the Loomis Historical Society. Tickets to the dinner and contest entry forms are available at HighHand.com, PlacerGROWN.org or at High Hand Nursery. Contest forms must be submitted by Thursday, Aug. 12, to High Hand Nursery, 3750 Taylor Road, Loomis CA 95650, or e-mail to michele @highhandnursery.com or fax (916) 660-9520.