The Pittston Tomato Festival is making a comeback this year. The Edwardsville Pierogi Festival is on. And a decision about the fate of the Plymouth Kielbasa Festival could happen this week.
After a year’s hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some of Luzerne County’s most popular events will make a return.
“If things look good, the theme of the festival will be ‘We’re back,’ ” said Pittston Mayor Mike Lombardo, chairman of the Tomato Festival committee. “We want to see some of these events come back. I think the people need it.”
While the festival is scheduled to be held Aug. 19-22, that doesn’t mean everything will be back to normal, Lombardo said.
The festival’s famous tomato fight — in which a huge group of residents wearing goggles hurl rotten tomatoes at each other — will not be held, Lombardo said.
Additionally, the entertainment schedule will be scaled back in an attempt to lessen the number of people congregating close to each other, he said.
“We don’t want to put people shoulder to shoulder,” Lombardo said.
Only vendors who previously participated will be allowed to set up stands, Lombardo said.
“We have vendors that go to all of these things. They have been beaten over the head the past year. I anticipate a couple of them saying, ‘We hung it up. We retired,’ ” Lombardo said.
While it will be a challenge to socially distance, Lombardo is confident it can be done.
“You are starting to see some optimism now. August is a ways off,” Lombardo said.
Jackie Moran, president of the Edwardsville Hometown Committee that organizes the Pierogi Festival, said her “fingers are crossed” that the event can be held June 11-12 as scheduled.
“Our intentions are to move forward as cautiously as possible,” Moran said. “Now the vaccine is out, things seem to be turning around. We felt we could move forward with the event this summer.”
Organizers likely will only use about half as many tables and chairs to keep people at a safe distance, she said.
When last year’s event was canceled, the committee offered to give vendors a refund of their deposit, but most declined, Moran said.
“Most of our food truck vendors said, ‘Hold my payment. We’re coming back,’ ” Moran recalled.
Moran said she was looking forward to the popular community event.
“It’s wonderful. Everybody needs some sense of normalcy — in a safe environment, of course,” Moran said. “We’re going to do everything we can to do it right.”
Scott Cannon, entertainment and social media coordinator for Plymouth Alive, which hosts the Kielbasa Festival, said organizers are meeting Thursday and might decide the fate of this year’s festival, which usually takes place in August.
“We have a lot of things to discuss,” Cannon said. “We’re hoping things work out that we can do this.”