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Spain’s Tomatina festival 2013: Top photos

Some 20,000 revellers pelted each other with 130 tonnes (286 thousand pounds) of squashed tomatoes Wednesday in a rain-drenched annual Spanish food fight known as the Tomatina, but this year they had to pay to join the fun.

Spain's Tomatina festival 2013: Top photos
"One hundred and thirty tonnes of tomatoes is a lot but it's still better than a 500-kilo bull." Photo: Gabriel Gallo/AFP

Defying sheets of rain and stormy skies, masses of tomato-stained people from around the world — led by Australians, Japanese and Britons – engaged in battle in the Plaza Mayor square of Buñol, eastern Spain.

Many wore shower caps under the rain and goggles to protect their eyes from the acidic juice of the tomatoes, which must be squashed before they are hurled at fellow participants. Some people dressed as tomatoes.

In driving rain, some people who had partied through the night were singing, clapping and still taking swigs of wine and sangria directly from the bottle.

Check out the best photos from Spain's La Tomatina festival 2013.

"It is one of the most famous festivals in western Europe and it is safer than running with a bull," said 22-year-old Brad Fisher from Sydney, who came with a tour group of 700 people wearing a mustard-coloured shirt with a ketchup logo.

The Tomatina has significant advantages over Spain's Pamplona bull-running festival, he explained.

"One hundred and thirty tonnes of tomatoes is a lot but it's still better than a 500-kilo bull."

This year, for the first time, participants are paying a minimum of €10($13).

Prices go up to €750 to get up on one of the six trucks bringing in the tomatoes.

Some 5,000 free tickets have been set aside for Buñol residents.

Organizers have cut the number of participants by half citing safety concerns, recruiting 180 safety officials, 50 private security, police, nine ambulances, and several medical helicopters.

Buñol Mayor Joaquin Masmano Palmer says the new fee helped organizers to control crowd numbers but he has also admitted that the food fight, which has cost €140,000 to stage this year, represents a heavy burden for a town with a debt of €4.1 million.

For the first time, a private company, SpainTastic, has been charged with selling entry tickets to the Tomatina, sparking concern that recession-hit Spain's town festivals may be on the path to privatization.

Among the top ticket buyers were Australians with 19.2 percent of the total, Japanese with 17.9 percent, Britons with 11.2 percent, Spaniards with 7.8 percent and Americans with 7.5 percent.

About 60 percent of the tickets went to people aged 18 to 35. The oldest was 82.

Tomatina T-shirts, caps and coffee mugs are on sale, too.

Japanese tourist Keiko Jinhouchi, 28, said she was spending a week in Barcelona with two friends from Tokyo and they decided to enter the fray.

"It's my first time in Spain, we're here for the day. Because it's fun," she said.

Fellow Japanese Kohei Onizaki, equipped with swimming goggles, had a tomato painted on one cheek and a Japanese flag on the other.

"There is a very famous TV show in Japan where a famous person joins this festival. It's a very famous festival," he explained.

Though the origins of the event are unclear, it is thought to have its roots in a food fight between children during a parade in the mid-1940s.

It has grown in size as international press coverage has brought more and more people to the festival.

After the fight, many of the revellers traditionally head to the local river to wash off the pulp. In this year's rain, that may not be necessary.

Check out the best photos from Spain's La Tomatina festival 2013.

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TOMATINA

#Tomatinachallenge: Join the world’s biggest food fight (from afar)

In normal times, the town of Buñol in the Valencia region of eastern Spain would be in a frenzy of preparation with hordes of people flocking to the in take part in what has become the world’s biggest food fight.

#Tomatinachallenge: Join the world’s biggest food fight (from afar)
Photo: AFP

But this isn’t a normal year and like fiestas all across Spain that have been cancelled in the Covid-19 pandemic, the annual Tomatina won’t be taking place in 2020. At least it won’t be taking place in its usual format.

What usually happens at 11am in the streets of Buñol on the last Wednesday in August is seriously messy.

Trucks loaded with some 180,000 tomatoes – an estimated 145 metric tonnes worth – roll into town to provide pulpy ammunition for the 20,000 plus partygoers crammed into Buñol for the event.

This year on what is the 75 anniversary of the first Tomatina, the town council of Buñol is asking fans from all across the globe to join in the celebrations.

The involves staging your own food fight using tomatoes, or a stunt involving total immersion in tomatoes or tomato juice and uploading the footage onto social media with the label #TomatinaChallenge.

Those who email a link to [email protected] will be entered into a prize draw to win tickets for next year’s Tomatina.

The town hall plans to use the footage to form part of a commemorative documentary so asks for videos to be filmed in landscape format.

Videos should be horizontal, or landscape, rather than vertical or portrait, since they need to be uniform – the council wants to put them all together to make a full-length, commemorative 75th anniversary 'documentary'.

“We Buñolenses love our fiesta, we love for our tradition, so this is a way for us all to join in the party this year,” insisted María Vallés, tourism councillor for Buñol. 

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