A KEY to success at this weekend's Mary Valley Tomato Festival could well be the humble toilet roll.
The festival is paying homage to the tomato, and it is not just the garden variety taking centre stage in Imbil tomorrow.
Festival co-ordinator Josh Hopkins is mad about the fruit, and let The Gympie Times in on a secret to obtaining a long tomato.
Mr Hopkins uses a toilet roll to shape the fruit as it grows on the vine. The cylindrical shape of the toilet roll prevents the tomato from growing in its usual rounded way.
It is a principal employed by the Japanese to grow square watermelons and downsized, it works a treat in the backyard.
"It's quite simple really and very easy to do," Mr Hopkins said.
The festival co-ordinator will be one of many gardeners entering the festival's competitions in the hope of winning prizes across many categories.
In addition to longest tomato, there is the heaviest tomato, heaviest pair combined, most interesting shaped and smallest ripe tomato.
A total of $1500 in prize money on offer will help spur the spirit of competition.
"We wanted to weigh the smallest tomato but when we took one to the post office, it wouldn't register," Mr Hopkins said. "The scales can pick up the weight of a $5 note but not a tiny tomato."
A world record for the heaviest tomato could also be broken tomorrow and should this occur, the lucky grower will bag a $2000 cash prize.
The current record (3.52kg) belongs to an American, and was set in 1986 with a red delicious variety of tomato.
Mr Hopkins said growing a large tomato was a science in itself, coming down to the variety used and the composition of the soil.
"It's huge in America and considered a sport," he said.
"I think it's time Australia started to fight back and have an America's Cup moment."
Also on offer at tomorrow's festival are a number of fun games, with the focus on crowd participation.
A team tomato-eating relay, tomato bowls, a parade and tomato splat target practice are among the attractionst. Meanwhile, for those wanting a culinary experience, gourmet tomato ice-cream has been expertly prepared.
The Mary Valley Tomato Festival runs from 7am-7pm tomorrow next to the Imbil Bowls Club.