NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — After a tornado and a year under a pandemic, East Nashville's signature event is back and expecting more attendees than ever.
"The event was built around the community. And, of course, for the last year and a half a lot of us haven't seen each other. You know, experienced a tornado; went through a pandemic. And so the energy and excitement around coming back together as a community this weekend is big," explained Tomato Art Fest Director Jack Davis.
He said on a normal year, organizers plan for about 60,000 festival-goers on the Saturday of the event, but this year, he expects there will be more. Davis said, "People are ready to get out."
To help revenue streams for the festival and create a new tradition, the very first commemorative pin will be available for purchase for $10 throughout the festival.
"There will be a different one every year that's based on the, the artists that selected for all of our marketing materials," explained Davis.
The coronavirus created a challenge when planning for the community event, boasting hundreds of vendors and artists, but Davis said they are ready.
"We ask that anyone that's not vaccinated wear a mask the entire time whether they're inside or outside. And for safety, you know, if you feel comfortable wearing a mask, you should do that. Anything that's indoors, especially the Tomato Art Show we are encouraging people to wear masks everyone, and just keep, keep the community safe and keep yourself healthy." Davis continued, "We will have masks at every gate if people want them we'll have, we'll be cleaning on a regular basis the entire festival any surfaces, and so we feel comfortable producing this event and the majority of it and 95% of it is outdoors. And so we're confident that that it's safe for people to attend."
Davis said it was important to make sure the Tomato Art Fest happened in 2021 to bring everyone back to feeling like a community.
"The community wants this event to happen, we would want the community to be able to come together and I think we're able to do that in a safe way and, you know, people are welcome to wear masks and social distance as they can, but we're just excited to be able to produce something and bring it back to Five Points," he said.
"Tonight [Friday], the festival kicks off at 5, with a concert in the center of Five Points. Tonight's featuring East Nashville's very own Aaron Lee Tasjan, there'll be food trucks, plenty of vendors set up but really the big stuff kicks off on Saturday or tomorrow at 9 a.m. and runs all the way till 7," explained Davis. "There are three stages with live music all day, plenty of contests and activities for people to be involved in, over 200 artists, food trucks, all kinds of ways that you can eat a tomato."
For a full list of events and activities, visit the festival's website, TomatoArtFest.com.