Annual Pittston Tomato Festival keeps getting bigger and better

By Nick Wagner - nwagner@timesleader.com | August 28th, 2015 4:31 pm

DM/SH - sent to web

PITTSTON — Rain didn’t spoil a spectacular showing for the annual Pittston Tomato Festival last weekend.

The 32nd Annual Pittston Tomato Festival wrapped up a week ago today, and may go down as one of the best tomato festivals in history — again. The festival was showered with heavy rain most of Thursday evening; however, patrons came out in droves with their umbrellas.

The weather the rest of the weekend was perfect. Without a threat of rain, the festival was as crowded as ever and the 56 vendors benefitted from long lines and deep pockets.

Here’s a recap of the 32nd annual Pittston Tomato Festival:

It’s saucy, baby!

Grico’s Restaurant, Exeter, took home the crown as 2015 Sauce Wars champion.

Rounding out the competitors, in order of finish, were Sindaco’s Restaurant in Luzerne, Abbella’s Café in Wilkes-Barre, Guasto’s at the Jazz in Plains and CrisNics Irish Pub in Wilkes-Barre.

The contest was a blind taste test. Grico’s pulled out the win with nearly 700 people casting votes in this year’s Sauce Wars contest. Grico’s won the event in 2009, as well. Proceeds from Sauce Wars went to the Greater Pittston YMCA.

Flying tomatoes

Approximately 150 people took to the parking lot of Cooper’s Waterfront in Pittston to toss squashed tomatoes. All proceeds from the event benefited Greater Pittston charities.

The tradition of the tomato fights began in 1944 in Bunol, Spain. Every year, truckloads of tomatoes are dumped into the town square and everyone is fair game as they crush and throw tomatoes at each other. The Pittston Tomato Fights are a bit more organized.

A Pittston parade

The rain didn’t stop anyone from heading to Main Street, Pittston, to take in one of the greatest parades in the Wyoming Valley.

Droves of people lined the streets to cheer on some very creative homemade floats and local organizations — and indulge in various types of candy. The parade was broadcast live on Fox 56 with festival chairperson Lori Nocito doing some of the narrating alongside TV personality Jane Adonizio.

Approximately 80 groups participated in the parade. The grand marshal of the parade was long-time Pittston Tomato Festival Treasurer Tom Sewatsky.

Little Miss, Mister Tomato

One of the highlights on Sunday at the festival was the 2015 Little Miss, Mister Tomato contest.

Little Miss Tomato 2015 was Krista Magyar, 3, of West Pittston. Little Mister Tomato was Nathan Piccotti, 3, of Pittston. Runners up were Mia Bovani, 4, of West Pittston, and Roberto Hernandez, 5, of Shavertown.

All contestants answered three questions, waved and blew a kiss to the audience before receiving a ribbon from the 2014 pageant winners on stage.

Queen crowned

Shavertown’s Hannah Kasko, 14, was voted the 2015 Pittston Tomato Festival Queen and was crowned by the 2014 queen, Courtney Richards.

The five finalists ranging from ages 14 to 19 were Sarah Bingham, 14, Shickshinny; Theresa Rose Mitten, 17, Harding; Elisa Rivera, 17, Plains; Destiny Seville, 15, Plymouth and Kasko.

Kasko received a $500 cash scholarship from the Pittston Tomato Festival Committee with the first runner-up, Rivera, receiving a $250 scholarship. As part of her talent, Kasko tap danced to a rendition of “Can’t Buy Me Love” performed by Michael Bublé.

Judges were former festival queens Kate Mangan, Lauren Timek and Rachel Leandri.

The best of the best

It wouldn’t be a tomato festival without tomatoes. Enter: The Tomato Contest.

The Most Perfect Tomato went to Gino Pavlico, Pittston. The Largest Tomato went to Walter Bryk, Pittston. Bob Triani, of Wilkes-Barre, was the winner for the Smallest Tomato. He grows sweet pea currants and said you can fit about four of them on a dime. Ed Kowalchick took home the crown of Ugliest Tomato.

Running for tomatoes

Matt Flynn, reigning champ from last year’s Pittston Tomato Festival 5K Run, successfully defended his crown at the 17th running of the 5K on Saturday.

Flynn, 29, of Media and formerly from Pittston, broke the tape in 16 minutes and 42 seconds. The former Pittston Area track and cross country standout outraced second-place finisher, Chris McCabe, 25, of Lancaster and formerly from Wyoming, by 32 seconds. Bob Yonick, 31, of Camp Hill, finished third in 18:07. The win was Flynn’s third at the Tomato Festival 5K.

Johnson, 17, of Avoca, won top female honors in 20:10. Even though she led from start to finish, she scored just a one-second win, holding off second-place finisher Jenn Swiderski-Yonick, 29, of Camp Hill and formerly from Nanticoke. This was Johnson’s first win in the 5k race. She is currently a senior at Pittston Area.

Dispatch raised money

The Sunday Dispatch booth was popular throughout the weekend. All proceeds from the booth for Thursday, Friday and Sunday went directly to the Care and Concern Free Health Clinic. Proceeds on Saturday went to the Jenkins Township Little League.

Former Major League baseball player Andy Ashby signed autographs on Saturday and members of the Jenkins Township Little League staffed the booth. The Little League was given $357 for its one day of work.

The Dispatch raised $626 for the health clinic over the three-day span. The booth is staffed by volunteers of the clinic throughout the weekend.

5K racers line up on Main Street, Pittston for the start of the race.
http://www.psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/web1_Tomato-2015-5K-race-1a.jpg5K racers line up on Main Street, Pittston for the start of the race. Tony Callaio | For Sunday Dispatch
Eight-year old Clare Griffin, Kingston, finishes the 5K race.
http://www.psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/web1_Tomato-2015-5K-race-5.jpgEight-year old Clare Griffin, Kingston, finishes the 5K race. Tony Callaio | For Sunday Dispatch
Care and Concern Free Clinic director, Gloria Blandina, right, volunteers at the Sunday Dispatch booth, gives a helping hand to prize winner, 12-year old Jillian Rachko.
http://www.psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/web1_Pittston-Tomato-Fest-51.jpgCare and Concern Free Clinic director, Gloria Blandina, right, volunteers at the Sunday Dispatch booth, gives a helping hand to prize winner, 12-year old Jillian Rachko. Tony Callaio | For Sunday Dispatch
Jenny Blanchard, left, of Catherine McAulley Center, and Tabitha LoPresto, of PSP Strong (Pennsylvania State Police), set up their stands prior to the opening of the 32nd Annual Pittston Tomato Festival.
http://www.psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/web1_Pittston-Tomato-Fest-11.jpgJenny Blanchard, left, of Catherine McAulley Center, and Tabitha LoPresto, of PSP Strong (Pennsylvania State Police), set up their stands prior to the opening of the 32nd Annual Pittston Tomato Festival. Tony Callaio | For Sunday Dispatch
Mary Campanella, left, Yatesville, and Ruth Sands, Harding, stop for bite to eat while on dinner break from Dr. Costello’s office.
http://www.psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/web1_Pittston-Tomato-Fest-21.jpgMary Campanella, left, Yatesville, and Ruth Sands, Harding, stop for bite to eat while on dinner break from Dr. Costello’s office. Tony Callaio | For Sunday Dispatch
Rain didn’t stop Brianna Danher, left, Hughestown, Roger Johnson, center, Duryea, and Josh Russo, Avoca, from attending the festival.
http://www.psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/web1_Pittston-Tomato-Fest-31.jpgRain didn’t stop Brianna Danher, left, Hughestown, Roger Johnson, center, Duryea, and Josh Russo, Avoca, from attending the festival. Tony Callaio | For Sunday Dispatch
Little Miss and Mister Pittston Tomato judges Joy Lombardo, left, Tiffany Ferrentino and Sarah Donahue react to watching one of the little contestants Sunday morning.
http://www.psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/web1_Tomatowrap1.jpgLittle Miss and Mister Pittston Tomato judges Joy Lombardo, left, Tiffany Ferrentino and Sarah Donahue react to watching one of the little contestants Sunday morning. Bill Tarutis | For Sunday Dispatch
Event emcee Maria Rose LoBrutto, left, chats with Little Miss Pittston Tomato contestant Victoria Ferrentino of Laflin.
http://www.psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/web1_Tomatowrap2.jpgEvent emcee Maria Rose LoBrutto, left, chats with Little Miss Pittston Tomato contestant Victoria Ferrentino of Laflin. Bill Tarutis | For Sunday Dispatch
Little Miss Pittston Tomato 2015 Krista Magyar, 3, left, of West Pittston, receives her crown from 2015 Tomato Festival Queen Hannah Kasko and her sash from 2014 Little Miss Tomato Gabriella Zambricki.
http://www.psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/web1_Tomatowrap3.jpgLittle Miss Pittston Tomato 2015 Krista Magyar, 3, left, of West Pittston, receives her crown from 2015 Tomato Festival Queen Hannah Kasko and her sash from 2014 Little Miss Tomato Gabriella Zambricki. Bill Tarutis | For Sunday Dispatch
Contest chairperson Angel Noone, left, gives 2015 Little Mister Pittston Tomato Nathan Piccotti, of Pittston, 3, his trophy and prize.
http://www.psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/web1_Tomatowrap4.jpgContest chairperson Angel Noone, left, gives 2015 Little Mister Pittston Tomato Nathan Piccotti, of Pittston, 3, his trophy and prize. Bill Tarutis | For Sunday Dispatch
Winners of the Little Miss and Mister Pittston Tomato contest pose for a photo at the Pitttston Tomato Festival on Sunday. From left, first runner-up Mia Bovani, 4, of West Pittston; Little Miss Pittston Tomato Krista Magyar, 3, of West Pittston, Little Mister Pittston Tomato Nathan Piccotti, 3, of Pittston; and first runner-up Roberto Hernandez, 5, of Shavertown.
http://www.psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/web1_Tomatowrap5.jpgWinners of the Little Miss and Mister Pittston Tomato contest pose for a photo at the Pitttston Tomato Festival on Sunday. From left, first runner-up Mia Bovani, 4, of West Pittston; Little Miss Pittston Tomato Krista Magyar, 3, of West Pittston, Little Mister Pittston Tomato Nathan Piccotti, 3, of Pittston; and first runner-up Roberto Hernandez, 5, of Shavertown. Bill Tarutis | For Sunday Dispatch
Pat Greenfield, chef and owner at Grico’s Restaurant, was crowned the Tomato Festival Sauce Wars champion.
http://www.psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/web1_Gricos.jpgPat Greenfield, chef and owner at Grico’s Restaurant, was crowned the Tomato Festival Sauce Wars champion. Nick Wagner | Sunday Dispatch
Annual Pittston gathering keeps getting better

By Nick Wagner

nwagner@timesleader.com

Reach Nick Wagner at 570-991-6406 or on Twitter @Dispatch_Nick


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