PITTSTON — Tomatoes are really becoming an art form in Pittston.
Two new downtown art fixtures debuted Thursday night at the opening of the 30th annual Pittston Tomato Festival.
A 20-foot, steel-and-wire sculpture that stretches across South Main Street was unveiled. Brushed steel tomato crates are piled on top of each other, and a wire mesh man is depicted holding the stack upright. On top of the crates are two wire mesh men holding a banner touting the tomato festival. The banner is held on the other side by three wire men hanging off the Open Space building.
The sculpture, “A Bad Idea,” was a good idea by former Mayor Mike Lombardo, but his vision was brought to life by metal workers Ray Preby and Sean Brady.
Preby, of Pittston and owner of Apple Street Welding and Manufacturing in Larksville, said he combined function and form in Pittston fashion.
“It wasn’t enough just to put a hole in the ground to support the banner,” Preby said. “Why not turn that plain pole into something artistic, something that will turn people’s heads as well as represent the heritage of Pittston?”
Also, a new tomato mural can be seen atop the Tropical Dreams building. Pictured are numerous tomatoes that appear to have been thrown at the wall. Dwight Kirkland of Black Leaf Studio in Mifflintown, part of the team responsible for the Heritage Mural that was unveiled last year, spent the better part of a week working on the piece, called “Ultomato.”
“It’s a whimsical run on giving someone an ultimatum,” Lombardo said. “Our ultimatum in Pittston will be an ‘ultomato,’ which is that art is going to be a major part of the revitalization effort downtown.”
The annual festival features a plethora of homemade American and ethnic food, live entertainment, a gala parade, a 5K run, games, rides, beer and, of course, homegrown Pittston tomatoes.
At a ceremony on the city’s new bandshell, public officials called the festival to order. Attending were U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright, state Sen. John Yudichak and state Rep. Mike Carroll and dozens of other local and state officials.
A massive 30th birthday cake shaped like a tomato was presented by area caterers Biagio and Blaise Dente.
The festival continues today at 5:15 p.m. .
On Saturday, the 5K race begins at 10 a.m. The massive Tomato Festival Parade marches down Main Street at 10:30 p.m.; in preparation, many downtown streets will be blocked at 9:30 a.m. From 1 to 2 p.m., teen contestants will compete in the Tomato Queen Scholarship Pageant.
At 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, if you see a tomato coming your way, duck. It’s probably a stray from the Tomato Fights at Cooper’s Waterfront parking lot on Kennedy Boulevard. For a $5 entrance fee, patrons are divided into two teams and get to pelt each other with overripe tomatoes.
If you don’t want to toss a tomato, you’re welcome to enter your own in a contest at 7 p.m. Saturday. Awards will be handed out for largest, smallest, most perfect and ugliest tomato.
Sunday morning the Little Miss and Little Mister Tomato Contest will be held, followed by entertainment all day.