Annual Tomatina Festival in Spain, 2011

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La Tomatina is the craziest and the largest food fight festival organized every year in the town of Bunol in the Valencia region of Spain. An estimated 35,000 people some from as far away as Japan and Australia, took up arms and pelted each other with 120 tons of ripe tomatoes on August 31, 2011, the day of the festival.

The origin of the Tomatina festival dates back to 1944. During a parade of gigantes y cabezudos, young men who wanted to participate in the event staged a brawl. Since there was a vegetable stand nearby, they picked up tomatoes and used them as weapons. The police had to intervene to break up the fight, and forced those responsible to pay the damages incurred. The following year the young people repeated the fight, only this time they brought their own tomatoes from home. They were again dispersed by the police. After repeating this in subsequent years, the party was, albeit unofficially, established.

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The festivities usually begin at around 10 AM with singing and dancing. Then at about 11 a loud shot rings out, and the chaos begins.

The fight continues for one hour, at the end of which the whole town square is colored red and rivers of tomato juice flow freely. Fire Trucks hose down the streets and participants use hoses that locals provide to remove the tomato paste from their bodies. After the cleaning, the village cobblestone streets turn pristine due to the acidity of the tomato disinfecting and thoroughly cleaning the surfaces.

See photos from last year’s Tomatina festival.

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Revelers sleep on the street on the morning of the annual tomatina festival on August 31, 2011 in Bunol, Spain.

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Photos: Associated Press, Reuters, Getty Images

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