The reason for the festival: Pittston tomatoes!File photo by aimee dilger
Little Mister Tomato Mario Belza posses for photos with Miss Tomato 2010 Maria Conti for photos at last year’s Pittston Tomato Festival.File photo by Fred Adams
The 28th annual Pittston Tomato Festival will be presented in downtown Pittston Thursday, August 18, through Sunday, August 21.
More than 50,000 people are expected to attend the four-day event that has been touted as one of the best festivals in Northeastern Pennsylvania.
Delicious food, a variety of live entertainment, tomato fights, a gala parade, a 5K run (this year dedicated to the memory of fallen local hero Spc. Dale Kridlo), games, rides, arts and crafts, bingo and of course home-grown Pittston tomatoes keep bringing an enthusiastic crowd to the festival year after year.
Returning this year is “Sauce Wars”, a marinara sauce taste competition. Festival goers can sample sauce from local restaurants and vote for their favorite.
The festival’s opening ceremony will be on Thursday, August 18, at 6 p.m. followed by live entertainment by Windfall and Sweet Pepper and the Long Hots, led by Pittston native son Charlie Infantino, a bass player and singer who frequently tours with Elvis tribute artist Shawn Klush.
The festival opens on Friday at 5 p.m. with performances by Groove Train at 5:30 p.m. and M80 from 8:30 to 11 p.m.
Saturday’s events begin at 11 a.m. with the 13th annual Pittston Tomato Festival 5K Run sponsored by Geisinger.
Registration begins at 9:30 a.m. at the Greater Pittston YMCA. For race information call 654-4601.
The parade will begin on Saturday at 11:30 a.m. The event will be televised live on Fox 56. Parade line-up is at 10:30 a.m.
The route will start at the Uni-Mart and continue through Main Street and down Kennedy Boulevard and end at the Cooper’s Co-op building.
This year’s Grand Marshal is Dr. Joseph Lombardo.
The Tomato Fights, sponsored by Price Chopper, will be held at 1:30 p.m. at Cooper’s Waterfront parking lot, 304 Kennedy Boulevard. Registration will be held at Cooper’s before the fights. Participants must be 15 years of age or older.
Entry fee is $5.
Tomato Fights T-shirts will be available for a $5 donation.
All proceeds will benefit Greater Pittston charities.
Live entertainment on the band shell Saturday afternoon will feature The Tomato Festival Queen Scholarship Pageant at 1 p.m., the Hi-Lites from 2:30 to 3:30, Somethin’ Else from 4:30 to 6 p.m., Kriki from 6:45 to 7:45 and Flaxy Morgan from 8:30 to 11 p.m.
A Tomato Contest will be held at 7 p.m. on Saturday in the Tomato Festival Committee stand on the festival grounds. Bring your largest, smallest, ugliest, and most perfect tomato to the stand by 6 p.m. for judging.
On Sunday, the Little Miss & Little Mr. Tomato Contest begins at 10:45 a.m.
Live entertainment continues at 12:30 with Stanky and The Coal Miners, The Poets from 2:45 to 4:30, Jeanne Zano Band from 5:30 to 6:30, and Bad Hair Day from 7:15 to 8:15.
The festival will conclude with Dave Joyce and the Slow Pitch Band from 9 to 10:15.
The Tomato Festival committee stand will feature a Pittston City keepsake water color print signed by artist Sue Hand, Tomato Festival novelty items, T-shirts, golf shirts, pins and magnets.
As usual, the Sunday Dispatch booth (booth 46) will feature a variety of items that can be won by using a “Dispatch dollar” appearing in the Sunday Dispatch on April 14 or by donating one dollar to the Pittston Food Pantry or Care and Concern Free Health Clinic.
Items at the Dispatch booth, including the 2011 Dispatch die-cast vehicle, are listed in an article on page 18 of this section, the Original Pittston Tomato Festival Guide.
The Pittston Tomato Festival has been featured in Parade Magazine, American Profile Magazine, Pennsylvania Magazine and was preserved as part of the Library of Congress Local Legacies Project in Washington D.C.
For more information, call 655-1424 or visit the website at www.pittstontomatofestival.com