La Tomatina – Buñol, Spain
La Tomatina, is a festival held in Buñol, a town located in Valencia. The event is purely held for fun, and there is no competition, teams or winners appointed.
The event is said to have origins in the 1940s when some young people attending a parade became a little too rowdy in celebration and angered a rider of a float, who immediately flew into a rage. Taking his rage out on parade attendees, they in-turn became angry and after causing market stall of vegetables to collapse, began pelting tomatoes at one another.
The following year, the young people brought their own tomatoes and the tradition began to unfold. Each year, more attendees brought tomatoes, and although police in the beginning years combated this, it soon became an allowed tradition.
Official rules were eventually written and in the year 1975, “Los Clavarios de San Luis Bertrán” organized the whole festival and began to bring in tomatoes which had been previously brought by attendees. The town hall soon inherited the responsibility of organizing the event, in 1980. The tomatoes used come from Extremadura, where they are less expensive and are grown specifically for the festival. It’s estimated that over 150,000 tomatoes are used during this event.
In 2013, city officials introduced an entry fee and began limiting the number of participants, for legitimate safety concerns. 2014 had over 40,000 participants.
The tomato fight begins once a participant is able to climb a greased pole, and topple the piece of pork from the top. Immediately after, the start signal for the tomato fight is given. The tomatoes are delivered by numerous trucks and must be crushed before being thrown to reduce the risk of injury.
After exactly one hour, the fight is concluded and the town is covered in red. Fire trucks are used to hose down the streets (which are now found to be pristine due to the tomatoes’ acidity) and participants use the hoses of locals or go to the pool of “los peñones” to wash.