Contest Winners

11th-Annual Tomato Contest Winners Announced

[August 18, 2008, East Dundee, IL] Forget the fertilizer, the secret to giant tomatoes is music. At least that’s the case for Ronald Johnson of Elgin, who took first prize in this year’s largest tomato contest held Saturday at the Dundee Township Visitor’s Center.

There were 19 entries of all shapes, sizes, colors and ripeness ranging from a string of tiny green grape tomatoes to giant love apples that resembled misshapen 16-inch softballs. Fortunately, neither beauty nor ripeness was a factor in judging, said event organizer and visitor’s center board member Bill Zelsdorf of Carpentersville.

First place winner Johnson, who raised his entry from seeds, did use some Miracle Grow on his two-pound six-and-one-eighth-ounce Beefsteak tomato, but he also sang or whistled to his entry regularly.

“Nothing in particular,” he said of his musical choices, “just whatever comes in my head. Usually something religious, so maybe that had something to do with it.”

Johnson took home $500 in gift certificates and prizes from area businesses, including garden-themed merchandise from Dundee Landscape Nursery, Old Country Buffet meal passes, Classic Cinemas movie passes, and gift certificates from Olive Garden Restaurant and Piece-A-Cake Bakery.

“I lost about an ounce right there,” Johnson said pointing to a gouge in his tomato. “An animal took a bite out of it last night.”

Larry Fettes of East Dundee came in second with a two-pound three-and-one-fourth-ounce heirloom tomato, also grown from seeds. He won $300 worth of prizes, including merchandise from Dundee Landscape Nursery and Spring Hill Mall, and gift certificates from Red Lobster, Dundee Dairy Queen, and Piece-A-Cake Bakery.

Steve Page of Gilberts grew his tomatoes from seeds imported from Italy and took third place and $200 in prizes for his two-pound three-ounce entry, while Ramona Johnson (wife of first-place winner Ronald) of Elgin won $100 in prizes with her two-pound three-ounce tomato (ties went to the earlier entry).

“He got up early and snatched the biggest one,” Ramona quipped.

“It was another great turnout,” Zelsdorf said. “And I’m grateful once again to all the businesses that donated all the prizes – we had over $1,000 in prizes this year.”

Other donations for the 11th-annual contest came from One Cut Above the Rest salon, Denny’s, Manor Restaurant, Liberty Lanes, and Phil Aleo, who donated a copy of his history book, Dundee Township Moments Frozen in Time.

Bring Your Own Bacon
10th-Annual Tomato Contest Has Record Entries

[August 18, 2007, East Dundee, IL] It’s been a good year for tomatoes in Dundee Township, at least judging by the turnout for this year’s largest tomato contest held Saturday at the Dundee Township Visitor’s Center.

There were 34 entries of all shapes, sizes, colors and ripeness ranging from a tiny grape tomato to giant love apples that resembled misshapen playground balls. Fortunately, beauty was not a factor in judging, said event organizer and visitor’s center board member Bill Zelsdorf of Carpentersville.

Glenda Christie of Carpentersville took first place with a Big Zack tomato that weighed in at two pounds, two and three eighths ounces. She took home $400 in gift certificates from area businesses, including $95 in Old Country Buffet meal passes, Classic Cinemas movie passes, and a $50 savings bond from Cardunal Savings Bank.

“This was actually my first year gardening,” Christie said, “my husband always did it, but he’s been ill, so I took over.” Christie said she didn’t do anything special with her winning entry other than water it and watch it grow. “Something did take a bite out of it just before I picked it, so we were a little worried,” she added.

Norm Thomas of East Dundee was a close second with his Super Steak tomato, which weighed two pounds, one and one quarter ounces. He won $275 worth of gift certificates, including $50 to Dundee Landscape Nursery, 12 games of bowling at Liberty Lanes, and $78 in passes from Old Country Buffet.

Mike Bateman of East Dundee took third place and $150 in prizes for his two-pound five eighths-ounce entry, and Audrey Kellner of West Dundee won $100 in prizes with her two-pound one-quarter-ounce tomato.

“I was pleasantly surprised at the number of entries,” Zelsdorf said. “This year we had the most entries and also the most prizes donated too.”

Here are all of our winners. Shown here from left are event organizer Bill Zelsdorf with winners Glenda Christie, Norm Thomas, Mike Bateman and our youngest competitor Audrey Kellner. Congrats to our winners!

Other donations for the 10th-annual contest came from One Cut Above the Rest salon, Piece-A-Cake Bakery, Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Spring Hill Mall, Jewel Food Store, Denny’s, Dairy Queen, and Manor Restaurant.

The Visitor’s Center will host its Great Pumpkin contest in October, with prizes for heaviest pumpkin and best decorated pumpkin. Watch this space for details!

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Our own resident cowboy David Carter (yes, he's available for hire!) of Hat Creek Enterprises, gave an impromptu poetry recital. Little did he know he'd end up on you tube! It's just one of the many value-added services we offer our market vendors. Check out David's site and definitely try his BBQ sauce, it's fabulous. It contains none of that wussy high fructose corn syrup either! Just spices, fire and a whole lotta love.

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Out of their gourds
Visitor's center hosts 10th annual pumpkin contest
October 26, 2008
By Julie Mullen For The Courier News

EAST DUNDEE -- It was officially a family sweep in the Dundee Township Visitors Center's annual pumpkin contest.

Father and daughter contestants, Steve and Bridget Jacobsen of East Dundee, each took home first place wins Saturday in the weight and decorating categories, respectively.

Steve Jacobsen's 119-pound pumpkin topped the scales in the weight division, followed by the 100-, 70-, and 30-pound runners-up.

Lugging the winter vegetables to the center was well worth it in the end for the top three entrants in both categories, as more than $1,000 in prizes was doled out.

However, size wasn't the only factor at hand, as far as the members of the Visitors Center were concerned. Those with a creative flair captured half of the prizes up for grabs, such as 14 year-old Bridget Jacobsen's painted green turtle, made from one large pumpkin with smaller ones attached for the head and legs.

The pumpkin contest was held in the bustling Old Dundee Farmers Market, which assembled for the last time this season.

Bill Zelsdorf, who has run the contest for 10 years, said the event is a fun way to highlight the Visitor's Center at 319 N. River St., as well as its seasonal farmers market held every Saturday from May through October.

Year after year, the market has gained more vendors, and more followers, Zelsdorf said.

"It really helps draw attention to our farmers market, and this has been one of the best years we've ever had. We had 50 or 60 vendors each weekend," Zelsdorf said. "But the number one reason we do the contest is fun. It brings our customers and vendors together, and welcomes in the community."

First, second, and third places were awarded for the weight and decorating categories, along with a decorating category for kids, which was captured by Sara Anderson of Elgin.
While the Jacobsens each took home $250 in prizes, the remaining $565 in merchandise was doled among the rest.

Susie Bird's pumpkin took second place in the weight competition, followed by Joseph Bobbitt's. Bob Weilbacher took second prize in the decorating category, and Karen Nedli gleaned third.
In total, the winners received hundreds of dollars worth of goods and gift certificates from area merchants who donated the items for the cause.

While Steve Jacobsen said he admits there's really no special secret to growing his large pumpkins, he has a sneaking suspicion why everything in his backyard seems to do well.
He's got a built-in composter, Jacobsen admitted with a smile.

"I didn't have my seeds shipped in like a lot of people do. I just got them off the rack up at Wal-Mart," he said. "I do have a sewage plant behind my house though, and everything in the garden seems to do pretty well."

9th-Annual Pumpkin Contest Almost Goes to the Dogs
[Oct. 27, 2007, East Dundee, IL]

OK, not really, but we did have a dog enter...and win second prize! Twelve-year-old Sharky Mahoney won second prize in the kids' decorated pumpkin category -- not bad considering he doesn't have thumbs.

This was the 9th year for our annual Great Pumpkin contest, which marks the end of the season for our Dundee Farmer's Market. Area businesses donated over $1,500 in prizes that went to winners in three categories: heaviest, best decorated/carved, and best decorated/carved kids 12 and under.

Here are this year's winners!

Third Place: Stephanie Domagalski, (seated with painted pumpkin), $100 in prizes; Second Place: Mike Cuniff (tatooed pumpkin), $200 in prizes; First Place, Joann Scott (bucket head), $300 in prizes.

First place winner in the kids' category was Natalie with her tigger pumpkin. Second place went to Sharky the dog (not pictured) for his barfing pumpkin. There were no other kids' entries.

The mother-daughter team of Nicole and Jennifer Liebman took first and second place with their 78- and 71-pound gourds (a total of $500 in prizes!). Susan Bird came in a distant but enthusiastic third with her 45-pound entry, which won her $100 in prizes.

Thanks to all who joined in the fun, and special thanks to the generous businesses that donated prizes: Old Country Buffet, Piece-A-Cake Bakery, Spring Hill Mall, Dundee Landscape and Nursery, Classic Cinemas, Olive Garden, Manor Restaurant, Phil Aleo, Dairy Queen, Red Lobster, Denny's, Liberty Lanes, and One Cut Above the Rest.

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