Update Two: It was the Arkansas Traveler!!
I didn't expect much from the biggest contest since my entry wasn't really all that big. I'd picked other bigger ones at the beginning of the season. Some of the first blooms on beefsteak types are commonly fasciated (think "Siamese blooms"), so those regularly produce whoppers. But since I've been picking ripe ones for a month or so now, the biggest one I had uneaten at this point was an Arkansas Traveler and it wasn't all that big.
But I was kinda' hoping for the tastiest. Them's some good bragging rights right there. I mean, what in the hell are we growing tomatoes for? They sure don't write songs about a tomato's disease resistance, and productivity won't make you "slap yo mama". So yeah, the more I thought about it, the more I thought if I win something that's the prize I want, and I want an heirloom to win it. Since I have plenty of those, I went out last night, whittled through the thirty or so varieties out there, and picked six ~ Creole, Arkansas Traveler, Snow White, Ponderosa Red, Valencia Orange, and Brandywine. I still don't know which one won. It was all done anonymously obviously, so I'll have to get any paperwork Michael was given and then contact Andy at Ladybug to match up the winning number/info. I can't wait to find out. (Part Two of Update One: I still don't know if it was Arkansas Traveler or Creole, so I still can't wait to find out. Hopefully I'll find out tomorrow. I'll let y'all know.)
I thought, "It sure would be nice to have bragging rights!" But no, that wasn't it, not completely. Then I thought, "It'd be nice to win Ladybug's first contest and be a part of history so to speak." But no, that factored in but wasn't it either. "An heirloom has to win the tastiest contest. That's why I want to win." Nope, not really. Then I thought, "It'd sure be nice to see Judge Clark's face next time I see him if I was to win."
Yep, that was it.
I met Judge Clark a few years ago when I started at the Natural Gardener. He was one of our plant suppliers, bringing in vegetable transplants he'd grown for us to sell. I was always so happy to see his kind face and what he'd brought us this time, and never a bit minded his gentle urging to "Get my babies in the hoophouse and out of this hot sun soon now." A couple springs ago he came to work with us as our Tomato Consultant and sat at a table just outside the veggie hoophouse door, holding court with his tomato books and tomato catalogs at the ready. I got to know him even better then and was glad of it. He has a passion for growing food, just like I do. I learned so much from him by bringing customers to him for advice, then standing there and listening. Many times I'd ask followup questions of my own later and he was always happy to talk tomatoes, and general country life.
It took a little while for me to find out that Judge Clark is a local celebrity since he never brought it up. Coworkers eventually filled me in, so I Googled him. What interesting things I found! Even if you've never come into the nursery, you may have been touched by him and just not known it. Ever eaten at some local restaurants lately, flashed the Hook 'Em Horns sign, or had (or been) a child in the Texas school system in the past twenty or so years? Then you've been touched by Judge Clark.
This past spring I was a bit disappointed to hear that he wouldn't be joining us at NattyG's. Seems he was going back to judging, traveling all over the Hill Country to do it. Well, I guess that's an important enough reason. Darnit. At least I'd still get to see him when he comes in the nursery. And little did I know he'd be one of the judges judging my tomatoes today.
Yeah, I really can't wait to see him next time he comes in.