In recent years, tickets have been issued to limit tomato fight participants to 20,000 people. Yet spectators swell that number considerably. The festival is actually a week long, with parades, cooking contests, dancing, and fireworks.
The 2015 tomato fight was yesterday. One of the highlights was when Google’s Street View car drove into the mess, and was pelted with a good share of tomatoes. Street View had planned to collect “before and after” pictures, but a timing mistake meant that Google only got photos “during.”
Yesterday’s event marked the 70th anniversary of La Tomatina, which was an occasion for a congratulatory Google Doodle. If they had only known what would happen, they could have included the Street View car in the art.
Strangely, Buñol doesn’t even grow tomatoes. The town relies on the province of Extremadura for its tomatoes, both for eating and for the festival. By late in August, the tomato producers of Extremadura have plenty of overripe or other-than-top-grade tomatoes for the festival.
The traditional signal for the tomato fight to begin is complex. A ham is suspended from a greased pole in the town square. Participants struggle to retrieve the ham. When someone finally does, a cannon fires, initiating the free-for-all.
It takes an hour or two for all the tomatoes to be thrown, and then the cannon fires again, which is a signal for the fight to stop.
By then, the streets are ankle-deep in tomato pulp! Firefighters are on hand to hose down the participants, although some prefer to jump into the nearby Buñol River.
A good time was had by all. Make your plans now for La Tomatina 2016, which will be held on August 31st.