Tomatina Festival Turns Spanish Town Red

The Tomatina Festival draws 40,000 people to the Spanish town of Bunol every year with one purpose in mind — smash, throw, and pelt as many tomatoes into strangers as they can.

The festival, which took place this week in Spain, ends up consuming about 120 tons of tomatoes, The Associated Press reported. Participants swim in a sea of red pulp as they throw a squishy mixture of tomatoes at each other. Many of those taking part even wear goggles to guard against the tomatoes, which are dumped on participants from five fully loaded trucks, CBS reported.

The Tomatina Festival actually brings the entire town to a halt. Streets are closed off for the battle, and afterward buildings and streets receive a thorough hosing to wash the remnants away. Once the food fight has ended, participants make their way to portable showers, where they get a chance to wash off some of the sticky leftovers.

The annual festival traces its roots back to 1945, when it started as a food fight among some local kids. The theory is that they wanted to be involved in a parade but could not, so they staged a brawl nearby and picked up tomatoes from a nearby vegetable and fruit stand as weapons. The next year the fight was re-staged, with people bringing their own tomatoes from home this time.

The Tomatina Festival kicks off at around 10 am, when participants fight to pull a ham off the top of a greased pole. Once someone is able to take the ham from the pole, the food fight begins and goes on for about an hour as participants pelt each other with locally grown, low quality tomatoes.