The city of Pittston is known as The Quality Tomato Capital of the World. Driving down Main St., you might notice a few depictions of tomatoes in sculptures, on street signs, and in paintings on the sides of buildings. The nickname came along with the discovery that the area’s river-fed soil, paired with the soil’s unique chemistry, were the makings for fantastic tomatoes.
This area has a very rich history as an Anthracite coal epicenter of the United Stairs. Paired with that industry and the innovation of rail road operations, Pittston’s tomatoes were able to be shipped around the country, widening the area’s reputation as The Quality Tomato Capital of the World.
Pittston is proud of this nickname, and you can now buy Pittston Tomato Ketchup from the Pittston Ketchup Co., which is featured in local restaurants as well.
So, is it any surprise that the town holds an annual festival celebrating tomatoes? And it’s the highlight of the year for many residents.
This year marks the 34th annual festival, which includes a parade, 5K run, food vendors, a farmer’s market, arts and crafts, the famous tomato fight, and so much more!
There’s something for everyone at the Pittston Tomato Festival, which runs from Thursday, August 17th through Sunday, August 20th, 2017and is located at 49 S. Main St., just behind the Tomato Bar. More than 50,000 people will be attending the festival during its run.
The tomato fight takes place in the Cooper’s on the Water Front Restaurant parking lot at 304 Kennedy Blvd. The entry fee is $10 and includes the use of protective goggles.
The annual 5K run/walk takes place at 10:00 am on Saturday, August 19th followed by the annual parade at 10:30 am.
Also on Saturday, the Tomato Festival Queen Scholarship Pageant will take place at 1:00 pm. Here, girls between the ages of 14 and 19 compete for a first-place award of a $500 cash college scholarship.
The runner-up will receive a $250 scholarship, and all other contestants receive prizes for participating in the competition. This is a great way to get to know the young ladies who are the future of Pittston!
Later that day, an annual Tomato Contest will take place at 7:00 pm. Here, people enter their homegrown tomatoes for the chance to win in one of four categories: largest, smallest, ugliest, and most perfect tomato.
On Sunday, August 20th, at 11 am, the annual Little Miss and Little Mister Tomato contest will take place, where children between the ages of two and six compete for the title. Be sure to show up for this one for your Sunday dose of cuteness!
Throughout the festival, attendees can donate $2 to sample sauces from five local restaurants in the Sauce Wars. This year, the restaurants include AuRants of Duryea, Andy Perugino Restaurant of Luzerne, CrisNics of Wilkes-Barre, Grico’s of Exeter, and Marianacci’s Restaurant of Wyoming. Proceeds from the Sauce Wars benefit the Greater Pittston Historical Society.
Kayleigh is a content writer with a BA in technical writing/literature and an MA in creative writing. When she’s not at work writing, she’s at home writing, reading, or binge-watching television shows… for research, of course. A big do-it-yourselfer and crafter, Kayleigh loves testing out projects and gifting them to friends and family—all in preparation for when she owns her own home one day and decorates with her own personal creations. Her work has appeared on The Writing Cooperative and as an Honorable Mention in East Meets West American Writers Review.