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Stories of years gone by grow on Tomato Day vine
I-Tomato Day pic
Donna and Linda Puckett sort through tomato plants Friday at United Community Banks annual Customer Appreciation Day. - photo by Michele Hester Dawson Community News

Donna and Linda Puckett know a thing or two about growing tomatoes.

They can also give a lesson on a dozen ways to prepare the southern staple, high in vitamin C and vitamin K.

"I can them, or make salad with them, or just eat them," said Linda Puckett, who picked up her free tomato plants Friday morning during United Community Bank's Customer Appreciation Day.

"Tomato sandwich with mayonnaise on white bread, that's my favorite."

Surveying the package of three vines, she held up her plants, which were grown by agriculture students at Dawson County High School.

"Oh yeah, they're good tomatoes," she said.

An annual event that's been going on since the early 80s, Tomato Day at the bank is a much anticipated event for many in the community.

"We've been getting our tomatoes here for as long as I remember--probably forever," Donna Puckett said.

The bank passed out 13,000 tomato plants in a matter of a couple hours, according to James Askew, chief executive officer of the Dawsonville locations.

"We get so many ‘thank yous' and stories of years gone by. It's also been fun to hear all the tomato stories over the years," he said. "We see a lot of the same people, but we also meet a lot of new people every year."

Tomato Day, which also includes free hotdogs, chips and soft drinks for everyone that stops by, is an afternoon Askew and his staff looks forward to all year long.

"It's always been a way to tell our customers how much we appreciate them. We clearly understand that they are the reason we all have jobs," he said. ‘It's definitely one of the most rewarding days in my calendar year."

And that gratitude pays off throughout the summer, as customers return to the bank with gifts of their harvests.

"People frequently bring back tomatoes and give them to employees after they start producing. That's just an added bonus," he said. "We've seen some whoppers come back."