Pittston Tomato Festival kicks off 35th year
PITTSTON, LUZERNE COUNTY (WOLF) -- "We need to have a regional ketchup company since we're the quality tomato capitol of the world," A.J. Sanguedolce recalled his friend's words inside a booth at the Pittston Tomato Festival.
When his friend went to Portland, Oregon a few years ago, they came home with a bright idea.
"From there we started going to grocery stores, just buying things, cooking in our kitchens, renting out kitchens, and making ketchup after ketchup after ketchup until we found the right recipe," he said.
Now they're turning out small batches of ketchup as Pittston Ketchup Company.
"We use Furmano's Tomatoes, which is a local company, they get a lot of tomatoes from the Northeast."
He says the regional soil really gives the tomatoes a unique flavor.
"We had a lot of coal mining in this area, and because of that, the soil is very acidic. And because of that rich soil, a lot of people who were doing some gardening, they found these tomatoes to be extra special," said Lori Nocito, Chair of the Pittston Tomato Festival.
And what better way to celebrate that special fruit than with a festival - that's now marking its 35th year.
"It's fun, it's quirky, and it's fantastic," Nocito shared.
Joan McFadden has been involved with the Pittston Tomato Fest... since the start.
"It's gotten so big now, it's unbelievable, it really is. With all the vendors and everybody that we took on, it's great," who's on the festival committee, and we found cutting bread for sauce tastings.
They estimate around 50,000 people will be strolling down Main Street throughout the weekend.
For the food, the live music, the 5K run, the tomato fight, and of course, the sauce competition.
"We don't really know what's in each sauce, there are six sauces from six different restaurants. We don't know which ones are which, and everybody takes a taste and finds the one that they like the best," said Bob Price, whose organization, the Greater Pittston Cultural Coalition, is one of the benefactors from the competition.
And aside from the friendly competition, people say it brings the community together around common ground.
"I just love the city of Pittston. And the tomato!" joked McFadden.
The Pittston Tomato Festival goes through Sunday night.
There will be a parade Saturday morning that broadcasts on FOX56 at 11am.