Last updated: February 16. 2013 5:33PM - 225 Views

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PITTSTON – Thousands of pieces of tomatoes flew through the air as hundreds of goggle-wearing combatants competed Saturday in the Tomato Fight that marks the height of the annual Pittston Tomato Festival.

Festival organizers said 350 cases of near-rotten tomatoes weighing more than 5 tons were used in Saturday's fracas.

"The Tomato Festival is like a big Norman Rockwell painting," said event Chairwoman Lori Nocito. "We're all about families and home-time values. People actually plan their summer vacations and class reunions around the festival."

Nocito said the event was founded by Pittston resident Val Delia as a way to celebrate the many local gardeners who had begun raising tomatoes in Pittston's rich acidic soil.

"Tomatoes taste better when they're grown in acidic soil," Nocito explained. "We've got the world's tastiest tomatoes."

The four-day event features a large fireman's parade, an annual Tomato Festival Queen beauty contest as well as games and entertainment for the entire family. The star of the festival each year is the wonderful food, offered by vendors from throughout NEPA.

This year's Italian fare included fresh porketta, gnocci, stuffed shells, pasta salad, lasagna and scampi, as well as Italian pastries, gelato and funnel cakes.

"We came for the food," said Joe Joyce of Scranton, who came with his wife, Maggie, and their daughter, Annabel. "We like to eat; so what better place to be."

"The crowds have been phenomenal and the weather's been great," said Jane Sabatelle, as she operated her popular food concession. "This is such a wonderful week for all of us at Sabatelle's Market. We look forward to all our family and friends stopping by to say hello."

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