The Spanish town of Buñol hosts an annual food fight for fun, this one involving a tomato toss that leaves everyone covered with and standing in lots of tomato goo.

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Let them eat tomatoes. Stomp them. Toss them. Coat themselves in tomato goo.

Welcome to La Tomatina, an annual summer festival in the little town of Buñol, Spain, where thousands of revelers throw ripe, sometimes rotten, tomatoes at each other.

It all began in the 1940s when youths at a yearly parade in the town square began to feud. A vegetable stand was nearby; tomatoes soon flew through the air. It was such a memorable skirmish they repeated it at the next parade, bringing tomatoes from home.

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After futile attempts to halt the tomato tossing, Buñol eventually embraced it. Now it’s a town-approved fiesta for locals and tourists, drawing almost 40,000 people.

Trucks haul in tons of tomatoes. At the starting gun, the hourlong food fight begins and writhing, shouting revelers soon are stained red and stand ankle-deep in the spoils of war.

Buñol’s city hall doles out advice. Squish tomatoes before throwing so no one gets hurt. Wear swim goggles to protect eyes from acidic juice. Don’t climb up on window ledges for a better view; you’ll be the target of thousands of joyful tomato tossers.

After the last tomato is hurled, firetrucks move in, hosing down city streets and revelers. It’s a cease-fire — until next year.

Kristin R. Jackson is a Seattle Times travel editor and writer. Contact her at

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