Nashville Ten /// Tomato Art Fest

In honor of its tenth year as a solid community builder and advocate of East Nashville pride, we're featuring a special edition Nashville Ten.

TAF_10-CLEAR-e1357489113697Here at Lockeland Springsteen, we’re all about the eclectic; we believe we live in a city that offers prisms of eccentricity, so long as you know where to look. Nashville is the embodiment of the entrepreneur. It thrives on community inventiveness, bridging transplants that melt into a cultural crossroads in both music and the arts. At the crux of this spirit is the ability to see past the mundane and celebrate our thriving urban center.

At the end of a hot Tennessee summer, the emblem of our fruitful gains toward a unique culture can be found inside a tomato.

This year, the Tomato Art Fest will celebrate its ten-year anniversary. Founded by Meg and Bret MacFadyen over at The Art and Invention Gallery, the festival began with a late summer homage to the deceptive identity of the fruit/vegetable. Coupled with some event promotion, and the celebratory tomato art show organically grew, spreading thick into a community festival of over 35,000 attendees.

And this year’s music lineup is stellar: featuring Half Brass, Don Gallardo & How Far West, Waterfall Wash, Carolina Story, Buffalo Clover, The LTG, The Future, Fanny’s House of Music Youth Artists: GirlsSing/Head Over Heels, Bear Cub, The Young International and Panfish. Find the full agenda here.

In honor of its tenth year as a solid community builder and advocate of East Nashville pride, we’re featuring a special edition Nashville Ten- the ten things you didn’t know about the Tomato Art Fest.

By Meg and Bret MacFadyen :::

1. It was kind of an accident.

2. The Friday night preview party got started because during the festival it was so packed in the gallery that people couldn’t enjoy the art, so we added a night that attendees could leisurely enjoy the tomato-themed pieces.

3. The parade was started after Katrina, as a result of many transplants locating themselves in East Nashville. As a tribute to them and what they had been through, we started a New Orleans-style parade in the street and it has blossomed into this giant thing where hundreds and hundreds of people dress up and take to the streets behind a brass band.

4. In the middle of summer, my art gallery is so hot that we tried to think of something that would make people want to come out and be a little uncomfortable and a little hot. We came up with the idea that tomatoes like the heat and they are the best part of summer, in my mind, so we did a Tomato Art Show.

5. The motto for the Tomato Art Fest is The Tomato: A Uniter, Not A Divider. Bringing Together Fruits and Vegetables. My husband, Bret, this was his idea. He came up with a sign and said ‘here I made something for you.’ On the sign was the motto and the rest is history.

6. One of the fun things that we did in the early years of Tomato Art Fest was hold a Tomato Songwriting Contest, and there is one this year too! All sorts of professionals and non-professionals wrote songs about tomatoes, recorded them, and we made a CD. The winner that year was Peter Cooper with “Please Don’t Throw Tomatoes at Me.”

7. A lot of the events that take place at the festival happened because people would come to me and say “Hey Meg, don’t you think it would be a good idea if we did blah, blah, blah.” And I would say, “That is a good idea! Why don’t you be in charge of it?” And they would do it.

8. The first couple of years that we had the Tomato Art Fest, we were inspired by the big festival in Spain where the streets run red with tomatoes that they toss at each other. Instead of tossing them at each other, we would throw them at buildings that were about to be demolished to make way for new projects. It was a lot of fun.

9. The first year we had the tomato art show, for some reason I will never know or never understand, but 1,000 people came, and not only that, but a lot of them were wearing costumes. It inspired us to do it every year as a festival.

10. We get tomato art from all over this country. A lot of regional, a lot of national artwork. We’ve even had some from as far away as Peru!

The festival will take place on Saturday, August 10, in East Nashville’s Five Points. You can learn more about the festival here, and watch the video on Native.

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