I met Steve Baker earlier this summer and we got to talking about his hobby farm. He enters the Ag Society tomatoes and potatoes competition at the Minnesota State Fair every year.
He calls it 'a labor of love' that he has been doing for 10 years. In a good year of winning, the premium award is around $200. But the investment is 2 - 3 times that to get about 6 perfect tomatoes timed just right.
In the 11/4" or smaller category, he likes Black Cherry Tomatoes.
In the 2' or larger Heirloom category, he likes Cherokee Purple and Black Prince
To begin with I can't imagine spending six hundred dollars on tomatoes. That means either canning or giving away A LOT of produce. Exhibitors can't sell what they grow. And then going to all that effort (because let's be honest tomatoes can be quite challenging to grow) with the intent of harvesting a handful for a competition? Dedication. I will never look at the fruit and vegetables in the Agriculture Horticulture Building in the same way.