La Tomatina Festival

See the “world’s biggest food fight” up close without the requisite goggles, tomato-stained clothes and trip to Spain.

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: Denis Doyle

Photo By: flydime, wikimedia commons

Photo By: flydime, wikimedia commons

Photo By: flydime, wikimedia commons

Photo By: flydime, wikimedia commons

Photo By: Getty Images

This small town near Valencia hosts the "World's Biggest Food Fight" every year when thousands of visitors and locals descend upon the city to throw tomatoes at each other.

In 2015, it was estimated that nearly 160 tons of tomatoes were used in the "fight."

The event became so successful and popular that in 2013, the city introduced an entrance fee and limited the number of participants to 20,000, due to safety concerns.

The weeklong festival kicks off on the last Wednesday in August, and includes music, parades, dancing, fireworks and food (other than tomatoes).

No one knows why Tomatina started, but one popular theory dates its origins back to a parade in 1944 or 1945 in which young men started a brawl and armed themselves with tomatoes from a nearby vegetable stand.

Banned by Spanish dictator Francisco Franco for lacking religious significance, the festival returned in the 1970s, and is held in honor of the town's patron saints, Luis Bertran and the Mare de Deu dels Desemparats (Mother of God of the Defenseless), a title of the Virgin Mary.

Around 11 a.m., the first event begins in the center of town, Plaza del Pueblo, where trucks have hauled in over 100,000 tomatoes.

Officially, the fight begins after a climber knocks off a ham from the top of a two-story high greased wooden pole. Although, the festivities will start whether or not the climber reaches the prized ham.

Shopkeepers use huge plastic covers on their storefronts in hopes of protecting them from the festival’s tomato-splashed aftermath.

Tomatina lasts for exactly one hour, signaled by the firing of water cannons. Fire trucks then spray down the streets to flush away the tomato residue.

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