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What is La Tomatina?

Tomatoes are thrown in an annual food fight known as La Tomatina.
La Tomatina is held every year in Spain's Valencia region.
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  • Written By: Sheri Cyprus
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 01 April 2014
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Buñol, in Spain's Valencia region, is the home of the annual tomato fight known as La Tomatina. The Valencia area is famous for its oranges and Buñolis also a produce-producing town. La Tomatina is a popular tourist attraction that is often billed as "The World's Largest Vegetable Fight." The Festival always takes place on the fourth Wednesday in August.

The tradition of La Tomatina began with just a few people throwing tomatoes in Buñolin the 1940's. The action was catching and more people joined in throwing tomatoes and having tomatoes thrown at them. Every year after that first tomato-throwing incident, the fiesta was held and soon it was complete with fireworks, parades and food.

The Tuesday eve of La Tomatina is traditionally spent enjoying excellent food and drink. The Spanish celebratory dish of paella is often served. Then, truckloads of tomatoes are emptied into the streets in time for Wednesday's produce fight. Store owners cover up their entryways to try to prevent most of the tomato mess and the tomato battlers wear old clothing.

The streets are lined with many people before the tomato throwing starts during La Tomatina. At least 20,000 people now attend La Tomatina and that is more than twice Brunol's population. Tourists are advised to book way in advance of the Fiesta and still may need to stay in Valencia rather than Brunol as the tourist accommodations are extremely limited.

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About 90,000 pounds (40.823 kg) of squishy ripe tomatoes are thrown in about 30 minutes during the La Tomatina tomato fight. You must squish your tomato before you throw it and you must throw only tomatoes. A thorough washing at the river ends La Tomatina. People go home and shower and change and put on dry clothes.

Fire engines help wash the streets clean after the tomato throwing. Shopkeepers remove the plastic sheets from their doors and windows. Everything is clean again and back to normal in Buñol — that is until the next La Tomatina!

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