Los Banos Tomato Festival this weekend

Los Banos will hold its annual Tomato Festival on Saturday.

Michael Amabile, one of the event’s co-chairs, said the event is expected to attract a crowd of 15,000 to the town off Interstate 5, near Merced. The free festival will include a tomato eating contest, a tug of war in which the losing team will fall into a vat of tomatoes and cooking classes.

Amabile said event organizers are trying to promote the festival to residents of the Sacramento area and Bay Area.

“Everybody that does a festival wants to get to where the Garlic Festival in Gilroy is (in terms of popularity),” he said. “We are the tomato capital and we want people to know that, so come to our little town.”

Amabile said companies process 450,000 tons of tomatoes in Los Banos every year.

The festival is scheduled to run from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. at the Merced County Spring Fairgrounds, 403 F St. in Los Banos.