Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

Local News

April 29, 2013

BUSINESS: Got {Tomato} Talent?

Officials to conduct talent competition — much in the spirit of 'America's Got Talent' during 29th-annual Tomato Fest

JACKSONVILLE — Attention, all area performers — all you East Texas singers, dancers, magicians, psychics, jugglers and comedians out there.

You are being asked to step forward, bring your "A-Game" performance, and audition for the annual Tomato Fest "Got Talent" competition.

Who knows? You might even win some prize money.

Then talent show is scheduled during the annual Tomato Fest on June 8, beginning at 1:30 p.m. inside the Norman Activity Center, 526 E. Commerce.

Potential contestants for this CellularONE-sponsored event must pre-register by Friday, May 31.

"Really, anyone can participate," explained Peggy Renfro, president of the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce "It can get competitive. It is free, and because of our sponsor (CellularONE) there will be money awarded to first, second and third place."

Since the talent show is part of Tomato Fest — which is expected to have crowds ranging from 8,000 to 10,000 — as many as 350 people might be in attendance to see the show, Renfro said.

"It is usually standing room only," she said.

This is one of several promotional efforts area officials have devised to attract attention to Tomato Fest. Another is the reviving of the Tomato Queen title — a tradition that dates as far back as 1934.

Tomato Fest chairman Robin Butt  could not immediately be reached to comment about the judge or panel of judges Wednesday. But in a a previous interview, he said that these events are a powerful draw for potential festival attendees.

It is hoped that the cumulative effect of all these events will be to generate the kind of publicity that Jacksonville used to have back in the day.

At one point, news about Tomato Fest and the crowning of its queen made newspapers and magazines throughout Texas and the Southwest. It became so popular that as of the fourth Tomato Festival, candidates from 55 cities were actively vying for the title of Tomato Queen.

Renfro said the talent show has gone on for a couple of years and was established by Butt.

"It really does bring new talent to our area," she said.

The event is in the spirit of America's Got Talent, the interactive talent show created by Simon Cowell now in its eighth season. That show has boasted such celebrity judges such as Howie Mandel, Howard Stern, Heidi Klum, Davis Hasselhoff and Sharon Osborn and was created by Cowell and based on a British series "Britain's Got Talent."   

Contestants on America's got talent could win as much as $1 million, The Jacksonville counterpart offers $250 for first place.

Local awards also include a second place award of $150 and a third Place award of $100.

An application can be found the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce website: www.jacksonvilletexas.com or at the Chamber office itself at 526 E. Commerce in Jacksonville.

For any questions, please contact Robin Butt with Boogie Butt Productions at  903-597-6788 or via email at r.butt@boogiebutt.com.

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