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Ladies and gentlemen, start your salads!

July 15, 2011

Photo: Salt Spring Community

Were you ever one of those kids that sat at the dinner table and played with your food?

Now you can and won't be grounded for it because the West Point Farmers Market will be hosting the Zucchini 500, (the Daytona of the the food racing world).

Think back to the Pinewood Derby, only now it's with vegetables. The races will start at 5 pm under the pavilion at Mossy Oak, Thursday July 21. Registration for the event starts at 4 pm.

"When we started the Farmer's Market, I knew people would come for the produce and stay for a long time if there was a children's activity," said Martha Allen, the Director of Community Development for West Point's Growth Alliance. "We've had a wide variety of activities and I just wanted each one to be creative."

The biggest thing was to stand out from the other markets in the area and as far as Allen is aware, there are no other Zucchini 500's anywhere else in the state. The market has hosted several other activities for kids including food carving, music, alpacas and most recently an ice cream eating contest.

The origin of the race is relatively unknown, although there are rumors it started in the Northeast, but for the last decade there have been other forms of the race popping up at farmer's markets across the country. Just last month, Bobby Waltrip, brother of famed NASCAR drivers Darrell and Michael Waltrip, was on hand to call the races at North Carolina Research Campus Farmers Market.

Kids and adults alike will need to put their imaginations in the drivers seat, although they won't actually be driving. The race track will have four lanes, each 10" wide and eight feet long and the wheels must be attached to the body of the vegetable. And you are encouraged to "customize your rides" with as many things (stickers, spinners and side panels) as possible because prizes will be awarded for the most decorated, most unique and most nutritious.

"This is a great activity for parents to spend time with their children," Allen said.

All cars must start from a standstill at the starting block and the first car whose nose crosses the finish will win. The officials will decide the winner of the race and if it's too close to call, there will be a restart.

Allen says she already has two cars willing to challenge anyone.

"I'm already practicing," she said. "I'm ready to go."

Other important info:
-A zucchini (squash, yellow crooked neck squash etc.) MUST be the main part of the entry
-Each entry must be self propelled (no motors or assistance)
-Cars may be purchased or home grown

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