UACES Facebook Behind the scenes men named to Bradley County Tomato Hall of Fame

Behind the scenes men named to Bradley County Tomato Hall of Fame

INDUCTED -- Bradley County Extension Staff Chairman John Gavin, left, and former Bradley County Chamber of Commerce Director Buddy McCaskill, right, were inducted into the Pink Tomato Hall of Fame on June 14, 2014. (U of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture photo illustration by Martha Sartor)

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Fast Facts

  • Bradley County Pink Tomato Festival is one of Arkansas’ oldest continuous running festivals, run since 1956
  • John Gavin and Buddy McCaskill inducted in the Bradley County Tomato Hall of Fame
  • Bradley County’s unique tomatoes are well known for vine ripening.

WARREN, Ark. -- The Bradley County Pink Tomato Festival, running continuously since 1956, has inducted Bradley County Extension Staff Chair John Gavin and former chamber of commerce director Buddy McCaskill into its Hall of Fame.

“John is an unsung hero that without him, things wouldn’t get done, but nobody really knows,” said David King, executive director for Bradley County Chamber of Commerce.

The weeklong festival, which includes food, shopping, arts, crafts, contests, live music, parade, and auctions, is a celebration of Bradley County’s most famous product - the tomato. With about 30,000 people attending each year, this is one of the biggest festivals in Arkansas. The chamber looks at those who contribute to the festival and chooses two inductees each year. The induction was held last Saturday.

Gavin was chosen because he chaired the festival in 2010, has handled the tomato packing contests for many years, and has been the person in charge of finding tomatoes for the festival, King said.

“That has been a major part of the festival,” King said.

“It’s really an honor to me especially when I look back and see the people that have been named in the Hall of Fame,” Gavin said.

McCaskill, who was the director of chamber for 28 years, did a lot of behind the scenes work that people often take for granted, King said. He served in the festival most of its 58 years.

“It’s really gratifying to be placed in the same caliber,” Gavin said. “I couldn't be more pleased to be inducted with McCaskill.”

The Hall of Fame recognition started in 2010 and the inductees are honored at the All-Tomato Luncheon event. The luncheon works to gather politicians and gather money through auctions to support the annual festival.

In addition to their unique pinkish color and taste, the Bradley County tomatoes are known for being allowed to ripen in the field.

“We pick tomatoes that have already started the natural ripening process on the vine,” Gavin said, as opposed to a lot of tomatoes that are forced to ripen in the cooler.

Although Florida, Tennessee, New Jersey, have bigger tomato fresh market productions, ours are timed almost perfectly when the other markets end, he said.

To learn more about Bradley County Pink Tomato Festival, visit

For more information about crop production and agricultural economics, visit or contact your county extension office.

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, gender, age, disability, marital or veteran status, or any other legally protected status, and is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

By Kezia Nanda
For the Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Media Contact: Mary Hightower
Dir. of Communication Services
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
(501) 671-2126

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