Food, fun and, of course, tomatoes at Pittston Tomato Festival
From the Fairfield Tomato Festival in California to Florida’s Ruskin Tomato & Heritage Festival to the Great French Market and Tomato Festival in Louisiana, people across America will pay homage to the tomato this summer.
But no city celebrates the fruit that completes our sandwiches and sauces — and gives us our daily dose of Lycopene — like Pittston, which is about to usher in its 29th Pittston Tomato Festival.
The festival kicks off on Thursday, August 16 and runs through Sunday, August 19. An estimated 50,000 will enjoy festivities ranging from the famous tomato fights to benefit charity, to live entertainment, a 5K run, Sauce Wars, and, one of our favorites at the electric and diamond city offices – the Tomato Contest.
We’re here to help you map out a tasty plan for the next four days with highlights of the famous Pittston tradition. Read on:
Take no prisoners
If you’ve ever lovingly thrown spaghetti at one of your mouthy siblings, you know how cathartic a good food fight can be. If you have pent up frustrations, or you just want to have some fun for a good cause, then sign up for Saturday’s Tomato Fight at 1:30 p.m. Participants, often dressed in protective gear, will assemble in the parking lot on Kennedy Boulevard for Cooper’s on the Waterfront. You can hurl tomatoes at your friends on your own, or gather up a team. Either way, you must be 18 years old to participate, and register in advance at Cooper’s. There is a $5 entry fee, which includes protective eye goggles. Visit www.pittstontomatofestival.com/fight.htm for more information.
So many of us grew up in houses where a pot of tomato sauce was always simmering on the stove, and Sauce Wars is the perfect way to rekindle that delicious memory. Local chefs will compete for the title of best sauce in the land in this culinary competition. For a $1 donation, festival goers taste and vote for their favorite sauce. Proceeds from the competition benefit the Greater Pittston YMCA. For more information, call 655-2255. To find out who will be crowned king or queen of the Sauce Wars, be sure to stop by the festival on Sunday at 6 p.m.
On your mark, get set …
Don’t miss the Pittston Tomato Festival 5K Run in memory of Sean T. Walsh and Justin Burns. The 3.1 mile run will take place on Saturday at 10 a.m. The course includes downtown Pittston, the Fort Jenkins Bridge, West Pittston (briefly) and the Water Street Bridge. It begins at Main and William streets and ends at the Tomato Festival grounds. The entry fee is $25. To pre-register, call 574-0463. You may also register on the day of the race starting at 8:30 a.m. at the Greater Pittston YMCA. Awards will be given in each age group and to the Top 3 Male and Female runners. The awards ceremony will be held after the run at the festival bandshell. For more information, call Jay Duffy at 574-0463 or e-mail him at email@example.com.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder
Whether you think your homegrown tomatoes are simply perfect or eye-watering ugly, you may take home an award for your gardening efforts. The Largest, Smallest, Ugliest, and Most Perfect Tomato Contest will be held on Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Committee Stand. If you think your tomatoes have what it takes to win, don’t be shy — enter! The contest will be held at the committee stand and there is no charge to enter.
If you go:
What: The 29th annual Pittston Tomato Festival
When: Thursday, Aug. 16 to Sunday, Aug. 19
Where: Downtown Pittston
5 p.m. — Festival opens
6 p.m. — Opening Ceremony
6:30-7:30 p.m. — Windfall
8-9 p.m. — Jeanne Zano Band
9:30-11 p.m. — Dave Joyce and the Slow Pitch Band
5:15-6:15 p.m. — Danny Argo
7:15-8:15 p.m.— Lipstick
9-11 p.m.— Sweet Pepper and the Long Hots
10 a.m.— 5K Race
10:30 a.m. — Parade
11:30 p.m. — Race Awards Ceremony
1-2 p.m. — Queen Scholarship Pageant
1:30 p.m. — Tomato Fights at Cooper’s Waterfront parking lot on Kennedy Blvd.
2:30-3:30 p.m. — The Hi Lites
4:00-4:30 p.m. — Jordan Tarter
5-5:45 p.m. — Phyllis Hopkins
6:15-7:15 p.m. — Somethin ‘ Else
7 p.m. — Tomato Contest: Largest, Smallest, Ugliest and Most Perfect Tomato at Committee Stand
7:45-8:15 p.m. — Eddie Appnel
8:30-11 p.m. — Flaxy Morgan
10:45 a.m.-12 p.m. — Little Miss and Little Mr. Tomato Contest
12:15-1 p.m. — The Perfect Harmony School for Music and the Performing Arts
1:45-2:45 p.m. — Stanky and the Coal Miners
3:45-5:30 p.m. — The Poets
6:30-7:30 p.m. — The Sperrazza Band
8:30-9:30 p.m. — Hill Billy Deluxe