PITTSTON, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) A popular Luzerne County event has been canceled this year. The Tomato Festival draws thousands of visitors every year to downtown Pittston.
Wednesday, organizers announced they will be canceling the event due to COVID-19.
“All of the data that is out there right now said to us, let’s do the smart thing, let’s do the safest thing, and the safest thing is to cancel,” said Mayor Michael Lombardo, Pittston Tomato Festival chairperson.
What would’ve been the 37th year of the Pittston Tomato Festival will not go on as scheduled.
Eyewitness News spoke to Lombardo back in June as many events were already deciding to cancel. The Pittston Tomato Festival was still planning to find a way to hold the event ‘safely’.
However, now with COVID-19 numbers going up, Lombardo says the public’s health is top priority.
“We just felt that we couldn’t get a level of absolute comfort and I think the word ‘absolute’ is important. I’m not willing to, as the mayor of this city, take a risk with one person.”
Lombardo says even down-sizing the event wouldn’t have been a good idea, as there are still so many entrance points that would be difficult to control.
As for the vendors, he says many of them were aware of the risk of keeping it open and have been supportive of the decision to cancel.
While the event draws a lot of business to the area, local business owners stand with the decision.
“Ultimately, I think it was the best decision. I know the committee works tirelessly on putting this together every year. The vendors need ample time to get all their stuff ready and ordered,” said Michael Callahan of Callahan’s Cafe.
“It’s a good thing because they had 37 good years and the counts are going up a little bit and you don’t want to take a chance,” said Phil Gianfarcaro from Phil’s Clip Joint.
“We’re bummed out. Even my boy’s bummed out over there, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Our mayor always makes the right decisions on these things. He wanted to do it. He tried,” said Jason Sabatelle of Sabatelle’s Market.
This Friday an Art Walk will be held. Lombardo says its success will determine whether he will hold a beer and wine event this fall.