The Dorchester County Historical Society celebrates the County’s commercial and agricultural heritage – and former distinction as “The Tomato Canning Capital of the World,” with the quirky Great Eastern Shore Tomato Festival.


Throughout the mid-19th and early 20th centuries, canning was a major industry on the Delmarva Peninsula, at one time employing as many as 15,000 workers who processed and canned fruits, vegetables, and seafood. Cambridge at one point touted itself as “The Tomato Canning Capital of the World,” enabling factory owners to grow rich from the profits of this booming industry.

This heyday was not to last, as the 1950s brought improved refrigerated transport technology that enabled warmer-weather states to compete in the growing business. Today, many of the original tomato farms have vanished. The Tomato Festival honors this heritage with presentations on the history of canning and the tomato crop on the Eastern Shore.


In addition to supporting a great cause, the Festival offers plenty of opportunities to celebrate and enjoy tomatoes and other Eastern Shore crops. Festival-goers can sample a Tomato Flight of tomato pie, fresh salsa, tomato jam, and even chocolate tomato cake, or watch as giant air cannons are used to shoot watermelons over the Nanticoke River. If you’re not afraid of a little mess, join in the Tomato War, a pitched battle where teams pelt each other with over-ripe tomatoes.

Check for festival information