Boxcar Willie & the Golden Pear
Not so long ago, things were mightily unsettled in the land of Wolf Peach. There was a partisan divide. The Tomātoes insisted theirs was a land of vegetables, while the Tomãtoes claimed it was a land of fruits.
Denny Diablo, a fire-red Boxcar Willie from the countryside, recalls, “I just didn’t like the fruit crowd back then. The idea that we could live in harmony seemed like a pipe dream.” On the other side of the divide, Ginny Golden-Seed was equally skeptical. “I thought they were crazy back then. Wolf Peach was founded on principles of inclusion, diversity, and plurality, but the Tomātoes were saying things like, ‘Deport the Fruits.’ It was brutal,” remembers the Beam’s Yellow Pear.
But then something magical happened. A couple of dreamers had an idea. They thought it might be fun to start a festival and invite the Fruits and the Vegetables. Deciding a slightly off-kilter marketing approach would be in order, they came up with a slogan: A uniter, not a divider, bringing together the fruits and the vegetables.
When Diablo first heard of the event, he was appalled. “I thought it was an affront to all the values I held dear at the time,” he remembers. “But I like to party, so I decided, what the heck, I’m in.” Golden-Seed was equally unsure. “I thought, ‘Right, so we’re gonna heal this deep cultural divide with a street fest?’ I thought it was ridiculous. Even so, I was curious — and I love to dress up — so I went.”
And so it came to pass, 13 growing seasons ago: the very first Tomato Art Fest. It was a smallish affair at the time. In attendance were Tomātoes and Tomãtoes of all shapes and sizes and colors; there were, among others, Bella Rosas, Banana Legs, Sweet Chelsea, Zebra Cherries, Rambling Red Stripes, Wapsipnicon Peaches, Velvet Reds, Tangerine Mamas, and even a Striped German and Cosmonaut Volkov Red or two.
Golden-Seed, who’d just recovered from a recent Mercury-in-retrograde episode, was surprised by how well everyone got along. “Sometimes astrological events like that can really get me out of sorts,” she says. “Especially when it comes to personal interactions. So I was a little anxious about attending the event. But it wasn’t long before my inner extrovert took over, and I was having the time of my life. I forgot about our differences and realized we’re all just a bunch of Tomatoes”
“I was nursing a serious hangover,” Diablo recalls. “Me and the bros had closed 3 Crow the night before, and I didn’t get much sleep. But I figured I could sleep all day Sunday, and I’m not one to miss a good party. After the first Bloody Mary of the day, I didn’t care if you were a fruit or a vegetable. We were all just having fun.”
As fate would have it, Diablo and Golden-Seed met at the Tomato Art Show. “Denny bumped into me while I was checking out the first prize winner. At first I was like, ‘Dude, watch where you’re going,’ but he was actually quite charming about it. I mean, he actually said, ‘Pardon me, ma’am.’ Pardon me, ma’am? No one ever says that anymore! I was smitten at first sight.”
“I knew she was a fruit. I mean, the tie-dye dress and the smell of patchouli were dead giveaways, but whatever. It was one of those love-at-firstsight kinda things.”
Ginny and Denny were engaged a month later. They’ve attended every Tomato Art Fest since and will be doing so again this year. “It’s different now, of course, since we bring the kids along,” says Golden-Seed. “Yeah, it’s a different mindset,” agrees Diablo. “It’s about the kids. The Tomato Art Fest is such a great way for them to experience that sense of community and togetherness.”