PITTSTON — This is the festival in Pittston that has nothing to do with tomatoes.
In fact, there won’t be much food at all at the fifth annual Pittston Riverfest.
“This is not a food festival,” said Joe Savokinas, president of the Greater Pittston Cultural Coalition, the festival’s sponsor. “It’s food for the mind. It’s a free thing. We have people come down and explain how things were done in olden times.”
That includes displays and demonstrations of historic crafts, archaeological artifacts and Native American dancers. You can even rent a kayak or a canoe.
Native Americans will dance, tell stories and answer questions “about how things used to be done,” Savokinas said.
As he has at both the Wilkes-Barre and Pittston river festivals, Jan Lokuta will paint murals with children.
But among the most popular activities are anything having to do with the Knox Mine disaster, which occurred in Port Griffith, Jenkins Township, on Jan. 22, 1959.
“A free hayride down to Knox Mine disaster (site), that’s our most popular,” Savokinas said.
The movie the Greater Pittston Historical Society shows about the mine disaster also is well attended.
New this year are fly-fishing demonstrations and a glass blower. Also, health organizations will be on hand to talk to seniors, and the state Health Department will offer free shingles vaccinations to anyone between ages 50 and 65. A tomahawk collector and Colonial and Civil War re-enactors will offer another historical perspective.
There are “so many things going on down there, and it’s free,” Savokinas said. “We’re also going to give away a bicycle.”
But yes, there will be some food stands, selling such festival-menu regulars as hot dogs, wimpies and haluski.
Business owners have donated items, and the city of Pittston has been very helpful, providing such necessities as tables and chairs and cans for cleanup, the coalition president said.
This year would have been the sixth annual Riverfest, Savokinas pointed out, “but we had a bit of a flood a couple of years ago.”
He said the crowds have grown each year, from about 250 the first year to more than 1,000 last year.
“When you say educational, people think it’s boring,” Savokinas said. “It’s not boring; it’s fun.”