Midwest Tomato Fest wrap-up: A view from inside the war zone


Tens of thousands of pounds of tomatoes were tossed, smashed, and drained all over Afton Alps this past Sunday night, as thousands took part in the Midwest Tomato Fest, the biggest tomato fight Minnesota has ever seen.

[jump] The fight was the highlight of the daylong party, which also featured performances from musical acts Shwayze, the Cool Kids, and Johnny Holm Band. According to organizers, roughly 2,500 produce-pounding festival-goers showed up for the inaugural event ready to drink, party, and rumble. Even with temperatures reaching the mid-90s, the crowd remained upbeat, despite the citrusy layer of tomato juice that seeped into their every orifice. Yes, EVERY orifice.

While the day wasn't without growing pains -- the tomato fight only lasted about 30 minutes before the entire arsenal was destroyed, and the downtime between bands got a little monotonous -- the event as a whole proved very successful for its first year.

Now, it would be easy to describe the scene of the fight, with thousands of tomatoes flying and people swimming in puddles of juice, but the only way to really understand what went down is to experience it personally. That's why I've broken down the brawl minute-by-minute, to let you vicariously relive the calamity for yourself (NOTE: For the full effect, heat up one or two cans of tomato juice to room temperature and douse yourself before reading). 

2:28 p.m. The crowd is buzzing and ready to show each other no mercy. Many people are fastening swim goggles to their faces, and to my left is a group of girls in their early-20s debating whether or not they should step out or stay in the crowd for the explosion.

Standing to my right, two dudes are discussing how they are about to "smash tomato shit all over those girls" the second the fight begins. Tomato Fest is clearly bringing out the best in people.


2:32 p.m. The buzzer has sounded and the brawl has begun. It takes less than 25 seconds for the first tomato to hit me square in the ear. A tiny woman in a bathing suit and swim mask picks up the tomato that hit me, and then proceeds to smash it into my chest. Tomato Fest: 1; Manhood: 0.

2:38 p.m. Almost all of the whole tomatoes have been thrown, but people are still picking up smashed remains and tossing them into the crowd. Anyone who appears to be too clean has become a target, and they are pelted with handfuls of hot, slimy tomato pieces. I make the mistake of opening my mouth for just a split second, and end up spitting tomato pieces moments later. This is not a festival for germaphobes.

2:44 p.m. Someone walks by me with a cup of tomato remains, opens my shorts and pours the cup down them. This fight has taken a sexy turn.

2:46 p.m. A dude is now lying on the ground, pretending to swim in the tomato juices. His friends immediately begin kicking additional juice and tomato guts at him. He gets upset and realizes the error of his ways. Overheard in the crowd: "That went up my nose, bro." He's not alone. I too have tomato chunks impeding my breathing. Bro.

2:53 p.m. I've officially had enough. I attempt to make my way through the crowd towards the water cannons to wash up...only to be blindsided one last time by a guy dressed as a beer bottle. After dumping a cup of tomato remains over my head, he mumbles something inaudible and races back into mix.

The crowd quickly thinned out shortly after the fight itself wrapped up, but several hundred stuck around to marinate in the aftermath.

Altogether, the Fest had an extremely impressive debut and this year will hopefully be the first in a long line of tomato fights to come. Until then, you have 364 days to sharpen your food fighting skills. Get to throwing.

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