Eyewitness to History: Roots of Tomato

Eyewitness To History

PITTSTON, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Growers say it is all about the soil in an area from Tunkhannock, Wyoming County to Shickshinny, Luzerne County, with the Pittston Area being ideal.

“Valentine Delia really loves his Pittston tomatoes. He says they’re the best in the world. And he ought to know because he’s tasted them all,” reports Sue Miller.

“The tastiest tomatoes in the entire world, believe it or not, grow on a fifty-mile strip of soil, situated between Tunkhannock and Shickshinny, Pennsylvania. It is not a radius. It’s a strip. And it is somewhat relative to the anthracite concoction. There’s a perfect blend of acids within the soil,” said Delia.

“Now Delia says that the popularity of Pittston’s particular variety could be promoted to do all sorts of things for the area. In fact, he thinks Pittston could someday become the tomato capital of the world,” reports Miller.

“We have yet to take advantage of this natural resource. It is a legacy of mother nature, that’s so distinctive, that we can get maximum mileage to give this area of Pennsylvania a tremendous booster shot,” says Delia.

In the 1983 report, it was obvious that Val was passionate about the Pittston tomato. In about a year’s time in 1984, the Pittston Tomato Festival was founded and has been going on ever since. Eyewitness News reporter Kelly Choate, of Eyewitness News had another report in 2018.

“Larry Shotwell brings his entire family here for a fun night out,” says Choate.

“It’s something you look forward to every year. You know you’re going to get some really good food you’re going to see a lot of people that you haven’t seen in a while. And it is a great atmosphere. They do a great job here,” said Shotwell.

Our own Nick Toma sat in on drums in 2016.

“There’s a real red one back there,” said Miller. “Ok very good,” responds Delia.

“Now I grew up in new jersey. And in New Jersey, the ‘Jersey Tomato’ is supposed to be the only one to eat. But Mr. Delia says I’m not leaving until I try his,” said Miller. “Susan, there’s an opportunity to try a fresh ‘Pittston Tomato’. Being a native of new jersey, give me your unbiased opinion,” said Delia, “They’re really good,” responds Miller.

The four-day Pittston Tomato Festival has attracted over 75,000 people in non-COVID times. Val Delia passed away in 2007 as a founding member of the Pittston Tomato Festival which as you heard was founded one year after Sue Miller filed that report.

It was canceled in 2020 because of COVID, was back last year, and is scheduled as a four-day event in August of this year. Pittston has earned the moniker ‘Quality Tomato Capital of the World” and it can be traced back to advocates like ‘Val’ Delia.

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