My Corner, Your Corner: Closing the book on another Tomato Festival

My Corner, - Your Corner - Tony Callaio

Another chapter is closed on the Pittston Tomato Festival and it’s time to turn the page.

After attending all four days of the Tomato Festival, I’d say it was another success. Yes, I know, it did rain, but honestly, when was the last time the festival had four rainless days? If you can remember that, then you’ll be hard pressed to remember the time before that.

The funny thing about rain and the festival, when the rains come, people do scatter, but the minute it stops, the grounds get filled again. It’s pretty amazing to see that happen.

Outside of the delicious food and desserts you found around the grounds, I’d have to say the entertainment was exceptional this year.

The Poets had their usual time slot changed from Sunday afternoon to late Saturday afternoon that just set the tone for the rest of the night. For Poets fans, they went from performing an hour on Sunday to performing 90-minutes on Saturday.

Victor Guiliano, owner of Tony’s Wine Cellar and Tony’s Pizza, put together a band from performers that get together at the Wine Cellar to form Tony’s Wine Cellar Jam Band. Let me tell you, you would think by listening to them that they were a well oiled, well practiced band that practices a few nights a week in someone’s garage. Not the case, these musical artists just meet up and jam on Wednesday nights at the Wine Cellar. Some play in other bands and some don’t play in any band.

Guiliano leads the Jam Band on drums, singer/songwriter Eddie Appnel, ace guitarists Rob Husty and Bret Alexander and up and coming rocker Ellie Rosentel.

The wildest thing about Ellie is, she just graduated from Wyoming Seminary and this week she enters college at the University of Scranton. This 18-year-old is just now finding her voice and style and she’s crazy good even in the early stages of her singing career.

I can’t say enough about her; she can be seen playing in local pubs and bars and on Wednesday nights at her home at The Wine Cellar. She’s a pretty soulful singer and does a great Janis Joplin rendition of “Me and Bobby McGee”.

Ellie may take a tiny hiatus from playing live in order to getting used to college life, I’m sure, and a very busy class schedule.

Usually Saturday nights at the festival have the biggest line up and this year did not disappoint. Bill Kelly, formerly of The Buoys, Jerry-Kelly, and Dakota fame, performed for the first time in many, many years. Bill is no stranger to Greater Pittston since he hailed from West Wyoming and was a Wyoming Area grad.

The recording star played solo for a few songs before bringing up is partner in crime, Jerry Hludzik. He and Jerry have been performing together for the most part for 50-years. Jerry is going through some tough times medically but when he takes the stage, something kicks in and on Saturday, he sounded just as good as ever.

What a joy it was to hear to two harmonizing together again. The comments on social media were that of great joy and excitement. One person said, “From the first note they played, it just brought me back to my high school days.”

After an hour set, the duo took a break while local favorite Flaxy Morgan played led by Richie “Rock Street” Kossuth and company. Jerry and Bill then joined the band to play the song that made them famous, “Timothy”.

That song always gets people on their feet and I’m sure Jerry and Bill both get a charge out of the response when playing it. I think I’ve seen about 10 different angles of the stage that people recorded from their cellphones only to be seen on Facebook. Yours truly was no exception, I fired up the phone and zoomed in as they played. It really was a great night for all those in attendance.

The 2018 Tomato Queen is Bianca Mazzarella who is poised to take over for the 2017 queen, Britney Cheskiewicz, who did a great job over the last 365-days she held the title. Bianca has big shoes to fill but after talking to her, the senior at Pittston Area is ready to represent Greater Pittston.

The Little Miss Tomato had a bit of a twist when co-winners were announced on the girl’s side. This year Mia Bartush was co-named with Violet Pantucci.

Violet was diagnosed with lissencephaly, a condition where the cerebral cortex is smooth and not ridged that leads to difficulty swallowing, muscle spasms, and seizures. Violet is prone to many seizures according to her mother Elizabeth.

Elizabeth also told me Violet wasn’t supposed to live past 1 year old and not have normal brain function, but this 6-year-old is staring kindergarten this week at Pittston Area. She truly is a miracle.

The Tomato Fights was an all out war, but this year that war was conducted in the rain and rain it did. The contestants didn’t seem to mind at all – in fact, it seemed like everyone had a blast… well, but me, I had to photo the event for the paper and I got drenched along with my camera. If it wasn’t for Frank Nocito and his large umbrella, it could have been worse.

Hey, maybe we can hope for a rare four-day dry spell for next year.

Quote of the week

“A man should control his life. Mine is controlling me.” – Rudolph Valentino, American actor

Thought of the week

“Genuine forgiveness does not deny anger but faces it head-on.” – Alice Miller, American writer

Bumper sticker

“The world is an enormous injustice.” – Jules Romains, French novelist

My Corner,

Your Corner

Tony Callaio

Reach the Sunday Dispatch newsroom at 570-655-1418 or by email at

Reach the Sunday Dispatch newsroom at 570-655-1418 or by email at