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La Tomatina - The Worlds Biggest Tomato Fight

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How does the world's biggest tomato fight start? Who owns the claim to fame as to having the world's biggest tomato fight? Nobody seems to be crystal clear as to how this gigantic tomato fight got started. But it did, that's for sure. It would seem that people hold within themselves the need to throw food and have a great deal of fun doing it. Seems to me that to be involved in a huge, crazy tomato fight, just might be a real blast! If nobody gets seriously injured in it, then maybe it just fulfills a nature desire that's in all of us.

La Tomatina, Spain

There's a sleepy little town called Bunol in Spain. Bunol is a small town with a population of about 9,000. It's located about 30 miles from Valencia Spain. Bunol holds the claim to fame for having the biggest tomato fight. Some say the tomato fight may have originated after a heated discussion broke out, while two people were dining and that the food just naturally started flying. There's a rumor that it started over a really bad musician playing on the streets, that was pelted with tomatoes to get him to quit playing.

This food fight is believed to have been started in either 1944 or 1945. It is said that they had so much fun throwing tomatoes that it has continued every year since then. Twice the government tried to stop it out of concern for safety issues. It was finally given the big go ahead in 1957.

What does it take to put on a food fight of this proportion? Lots of tomatoes of course. Were talking in the neighborhood of 240,00 tomatoes or the equivalent of 140 tons. Rest assured that these aren't perfectly good tomatoes, that could be used for food. Didn't you always wonder about that? No, these are damaged or spoiled tomatoes. They are trucked in from another small town called Extremadura, because they can supply a large amount of damaged tomatoes. Extremadura has quite a large growing area of tomatoes and also manufactures lots of tomato paste.

Celebrations start a week in advance of the La Tomatina with festivals of food, bands and fireworks. The size of the town's swells to about 20,000-40,000 people at the time of the celebrations. There's food and drink flowing.

Buñol, Valencia, Spain

The day of the tomato fight starts early with the flow of wine in abundance. The tradition is for the festival to always be held the last Wednesday of August from 10AM-1PM. The towns people bring out large sheets of plastic to cover there wares and buildings from flying tomatoes. People are dressed in clothes that they expect to throw away after the food fight. There are some rules to be followed. No sharp objects are allowed and of course no glass, such as bottles. The tearing of other people's clothes is also not allowed, but of course this happens quite often. And tomatoes are only supposed to be thrown after they have been smashed.

The morning of the festival a large pole is greased and a ham is put up at the top. The commencement of tomato throwing is suppose to start when someone climbs the greased pole and makes it up to the top. But most years the throwing begins before any body can get to the top. The crazy throwing of tomatoes lasts for about one hour's time. Then many people take off for the Bunol River near by to wash up.

La Tomatina, Buñol, Valencia, Spain

Once the festival is over, the shop keepers take down all the tomato covered plastic, and clean up begins. They use fire trucks to hose down the streets with water brought from Roman aqueducts. And that's the story of the worlds biggest tomato fight.

Continue reading in Spain Holidays 10: Summer travel to Spain on a Budget

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