Nine groups share $5K for helping at Tomato Fest

By Thaddeus Miller / tmiller@losbanosenterprise.comNovember 3, 2012 

Nine school-related groups and churches split a $5,000 check Wednesday from the Los Banos Tomato Festival committee.

Molly Cassidy, the Los Banos Chamber of Commerce's Tomato Festival chairwoman, said the money is earned through the Volunteer Equity program and is based on the the number of hours volunteered and the success of the festival.

"We had a total of 443 1/2 hours worked; that's a lot of hours," Cassidy said. "It's (because of) the volunteers we're able to have the festival at all."

The volunteers ran the entrance booth, cleaned, dressed as the mascot and assisted the chefs, among other duties.

Volunteering at the Oct. 6 and 7 festival were Calvary Baptist and United Methodist churches; Los Banos High School's girls basketball team, cheer squad and Mu Alpha Theta; Pacheco High School's boys basketball team, band and Future Business Leaders of America; and the Touchdown Club.

Cassidy also awarded Matt Whitehurst of Los Banos the Volunteer of the Year award.

"He stayed from the time we opened to the time we closed," she said. "He would do anything, from cleaning the toilet to wearing that really hot mascot (suit)."

The Pacheco High band offered the most volunteers.

Tracey Rosin, who is on the festival committee, said the Pacheco High boys were a last-minute addition to the crew.

"They called me that day and they showed up, and it was awesome," Rosin said.

The festival's two days of cooking classes, music and a farmers market drew 11,000 visitors, more than doubling the inaugural count in 2011.

Enterprise reporter Thaddeus Miller can be reached at (209) 388-6562 or by email at tmiller@losbanosenterprise.com.

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