Elginite weighs in to win Largest Tomato Contest
By Erin Sauder For Sun-Times Media August 17, 2013 5:16PM
Elgin resident Gene Woods took top honors this year with a tomato weighing 3 lbs., 2.5 oz. | Erin Sauder ~ For Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 19, 2013 9:58AM
The winner of the Dundee Township Visitor’s Center’s 16th annual Largest Tomato Contest is no stranger to the honor.
Elgin resident Gene Woods has won the contest twice in the past. His wife, Jean, has also won twice.
During Saturday’s contest, Gene Woods’ tomato came in first of the 22 entries, weighing in at 3 lbs., 2.5 oz.
His secret to growing such a large tomato?
“No secret. It’s just Miracle-Gro,” he said.
The annual event is held each year at the Visitor’s Center, 319 N. River St., during the Old Dundee Farmer’s Market.
Dundee Township Visitor’s Center board member Bill Zelsdorf said the contest usually draws at least 20 entries each year.
“We get a very decent showing,” he said. “I’m always thankful that we get at least four tomatoes because we have prizes for up to fourth place.”
Before the tomatoes were weighed, Zelsdorf anticipated Woods’ tomato would set a record for the contest. In years past, he said the most tomatoes have weighed has been three pounds.
East Dundee residents Mark and Tracy Herrera each submitted a tomato for the contest. Though their entries didn’t win, they enjoyed participating.
“I love to grow them, I just won’t eat them,” Tracy Herrera said. “I don’t like how they taste. But I love to watch a garden grow.”
The three others who won this year’s contest include Santo Maglio of Gilberts, who placed second with a tomato weighing 1.15 pounds, 3/8 oz.; Elaine Rathjen of Dundee, who’s tomato placed third weighing 1.13 pounds, 7/8 oz.; and Cindy Kennedy of West Dundee, who came in fourth with a tomato weighing 1.13 pounds.
Event organizers collected more than $1,000 worth of prizes from local businesses for the winners.
South Elgin resident Allison Moe entered a tomato that was so small it wouldn’t register on the scale.
“There’s a smart aleck in every bunch,” she said.
Run by a volunteer board of directors, the Dundee Township Visitor’s Center is a popular stop for bike trail users in need of snacks, beverages, or a restroom.
It’s also home to the annual Great Pumpkin contest in October.
And Tracy Herrera can’t wait.
“We’re going to come back for that,” she said.