(Aug. 19, 4:59 p.m.) The 24th annual Commonwealth of Massachusetts Tomato Festival, designed to boost consumer awareness about local agriculture, kicked off Massachusetts Farmers Markets Week on Aug. 18 in Boston.

“Massachusetts is home to over 6,000 farms, supporting more than 518,000 acres of working landscapes. Farmers’ markets play a vital role in keeping these farms productive and profitable,” said Ian Bowles, Massachusetts' secretary of energy and environmental affairs, according to a news release.

“Along with pick-your-own farms and roadside stands, they help make Massachusetts No. 1 in New England in terms of direct sales of farm products to consumers,” Bowles said in the release.

The festival included tomato tasting, recipes, information on nutrition and local farms, as well as a tomato contest that drew 73 entries. Top prizes were awarded to MacArthur Farms, Holliston, Mass., in the slicing category; Red Fire Farm, Granby, Mass., in the cherry category; and Ward’s Berry Farm, Sharon, Mass., for heirloom and heaviest tomato.