Leamington Tomato Fest gets new name after Heinz pulls out
The Leamington Tomato Festival will go on.
Mastronardi's Sunset brand has been chosen to sponsor the annual event, to officially be called the Leamington Sunset Tomato Fest.
The annual event began as a Heinz company picnic and evolved into a community event, now in it's 31st year.
"The Heinz closure is obviously very hard for the community," Mike Ciacelli, director of the Leamington Sunset Tomato Fest said in a media release. "We wanted to make sure something as iconic as the Tomato Fest remained locally sponsored and locally run.
"Right now our community needs as much support as possible."
Last year, Heinz announced it would cease operations at its 105-year-old processing plant. Nearly 800 people lost their jobs. The Heinz plant closed in June.
A new company, Highbury Canco, has been contracted by Heinz to make some Heinz products there. About 250 people are working at the plant.
Mastronardi Sunset CEO Paul Mastronardi knows what Heinz meant to the community.
"My grandfather worked for Heinz for a number of years and many of our employees have close ties to the company," he said in a media release. "Leamington is a small but strong community and we want to show our support in any way we can."
Ciacelli says there will be a new tradition to kick off the event.
"In years past, we've done the tapping of the keg. So again, we've changed direction here again. We're looking more at the tomato itself. So we're going to be doing the slicing of the tomato."
The tomato festival runs from Aug. 15-17.