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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.
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.
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.