Annual Pittston Tomato Festival gets underway on Thursday, Aug. 20

August 15th, 2015 10:16 am

Four days of fun, food and fights! More than 50,000 people are expected in downtown Pittston this week as the 32nd Annual Pittston Tomato Festival gets underway on Thursday. During the four days of tomato fun, the Quality Tomato Capital of the World offers something for everyone. The festival runs from Thursday, Aug. 20 to Sunday, Aug. 23 and is considered one of the best, tastiest festival in Northeast Pennsylvania. The festival features a plethora of homemade American and ethnic food, live entertainment, a gala parade, a 5K run and fun ralk, games, rides, beer and, of course, home-grown Pittston tomatoes. The festival officially opens at 5 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 20 with an opening ceremony set for 6 p.m. at the city’s bandstand, followed by live entertainment by Windfall. The festival continues Friday with performances by Danny Argo and Friends and a few other bands. Saturday begins the real party. The 5K Race will begin at 10 a.m. through the streets of downtown. Registration for the 16th Annual Pittston Tomato Festival 5K Run, sponsored by Geisinger, is set for 9:30 a.m. at the Greater Pittston YMCA. The awards ceremony for the race will be at 11:30 a.m. Following the race, the parade will begin on South Main Street and swing around to Kennedy Boulevard. The parade will begin at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday and will be televised live on Fox 56. The parade will start at the A-Plus Mini Mart, continue through South Main Street and down Kennedy Boulevard, ending at the Cooper’s Co-op building. Tomato Festival Treasurer Tom Sewatsky is grand marshal. Saturday also features the Tomato Festival Queen Scholarship Pageant from 1 to 2 p.m. and live entertainment on the bandstand throughout the evening. The biggest of all, however, just might be the Tomato Fights in Cooper’s parking lot. Hundreds of willing, and unwilling, participants will line up on either side of the parking lot and bombard each other with tomatoes. That starts at 1:30 p.m. 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 will be a bit more organized, albeit still chaotic, and truckloads of fun. The Tomato Contest begins at 7 p.m. at the Committee Stand. The largest, smallest, ugliest and most perfect tomatoes will be judged. The Little Miss & Little Mr. Tomato Contest will be held from 10:30 a.m. to noon on Sunday. Entertainment will be another highlight of the day on Sunday. Until the festival closes at 10 p.m., local musicians will be at the bandshell. After a brief haitis from the festival two years ago, Sauce Wars returns for a second straight year. In 2013, the event was cancelled due to a scheduling conflict. CrisNics in Wilkes-Barre took home the award for the best sauce last year. You can vote for the best sauce throughout the weekend at the Greater Pittston YMCA stand. For the second straight year, the Sunday Dispatch will see how good your aim is. At booth 47, contestants can bring their Dispatch Dollar, found in today’s edition as well as in the Aug. 23 edition, for three bean bag tosses at our Dispatch door. Make all three bags and pick a prize of your choice. This year’s prizes include a die-cast limited edition Dodge Challenger featuring the Sunday Dispatch logo. For a $1 donation, or a Dispatch Dollar, patrons get three tosses. Prizes also include Sunday Dispatch neon hipster sunglasses, limited edition T-shirts, key chains, water bottles and many others. All money raised at the Dispatch stand on Thursday, Friday and Sunday will be donated to the Care and Concern Ministries and its food pantry. Stop by the Dispatch booth on Saturday to make a donation to the Jenkins Township Little League. Former Major League Baseball player Andy Ashby will be on hand from 6 to 7:30 p.m. to sign autographs. The Dispatch will provide 8x10 photos of Ashby for autographs. A donation is asked for an autograph.

The tomato festival lot was full of people for opening night of a previous Pittston Tomato Festival. tomato festival lot was full of people for opening night of a previous Pittston Tomato Festival. Bill Tartuis File Photo | For Sunday Dispatch
By Nick Wagner  
Reach Nick Wagner at 570-991-6406 or on Twitter @Dispatch_Nick