Spain Readies to Dance La Tomatina

Any actor worth his or her salt knows it's probably a bad sign when you are pelted with tomatoes. For the Spanish, however, come the last Wednesday in August, there is no higher praise.

Every year on the last Wednesday of August, the Spanish town of Buñol in the Valencia region celebrates the tomato. Around 40,000 of the world's best tomato-lobbers flock here for the messy La Tomatina festival, taking place this year on August 31. Last year, over 100 tons of tomatoes (around $35,000-worth) were consumed in the battle.

The festival, which lasts a week, honors Buñol's patron saints: San Luis Bertran and the Virgin de los Desamparados. The town comes out in full force for parades, concerts, cultural events and culinary competitions. But on Tuesday night the locals and visitors rev up for the next day's tomato fight (think night-long fiesta with concerts and DJs).

Sustenance is needed the next morning, so breakfast pastries and sandwiches are distributed.

The event kicks off with the palo jabon, a tall pole slicked with soap, which promises the reward of a whole ham (jamon) at the top. Whoever slips and slides their way to the top of the pole is the victor. Around 11 a.m., the greatest food fight in the world begins as the world is dyed a pale shade of red and the streets become slicked with tomato pulp.

The event dates back to 1944, and is one not to be missed. However, if a full-body tomato scrub is not your cup of tea, Buñol is a site in itself with parks, gardens and a 13th-century Arab castle.

For more information visit www.latomatina.es.
 

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