Tomato armageddon this Sunday at Midwest Tomato Fest
Things are about to get messy.
This Sunday, the hills of Afton Alps will be flooded with red, citrusy remains of thousands of tomatoes; collateral damage of the massive tomato fight taking place at the first-annual Midwest Tomato Fest.
According to event organizer Kamal Mohamed, over 2,000 people are expected to attend the all-day festival (though not everyone has to participate in the fight). In addition to the battle royale, the event will also feature live music from the Johnny Holm Band, the Cool Kids, and Shwayze.
Mohamed, an entrepreneurship major at the University of St. Thomas, was inspired to bring the food fight to Minnesota after a service trip to India this past January.
"I met a girl from Spain, and she told me about this huge festival (La Tomatina) and tomato fight that takes place every year," he explains. "It sounded awesome and I told my friends that once I got back home, I was going to bring that same event to Minnesota."
That's exactly what he did, securing everything from the venue, insurance, vendors, and even the musical acts with a very small support team. Putting together the biggest tomato fight in Minnesota wasn't without its challenges, however.
"People thought it was a prank when I first started making calls," says Mohamed. "I had to really sell my vision for what this event could be, and I put together a presentation that finally convinced them."
Kamal isn't the only one interested in pounding produce. Over 2,000 tickets have already been sold for the event, with attendees coming from everywhere including Texas, Ohio, Kansas, and even the U.K. Altogether, he says he's expecting between 2,500 and 3,000 people, a huge success for the first time out. So, just how many tomatoes do you need for a 3,000 person tomato fight?
"We'll probably have around 30,000 pounds," he says.
While the idea of pelting your friends (and strangers) with tomatoes is clearly awesome, some people -- us included -- wonder if this is the most wasteful festival of the year. Mohamed is quick to fight for his fight, and says that no healthy tomatoes will be harmed during the course of the massacre.
"The tomatoes we're using are overripe and past the date they can be sold to people," Mohamed defends. "They were going to be thrown away anyways. So we called the wholesalers, explained what we were doing, and they agreed to sell them to us instead."
Now that the details are finalized and the tomatoes are on their way, the only thing left to do is let the battle begin. And Mohamed has some tips for tomato brawlers.
"I would say the key is to have one hand chuck, the other hand pluck," he says. "You want to keep constant motion going. Also, squish the tomato in your hand a little before you throw it; that will give you the best splatter."
Gates open for the big event at 11:30 a.m., and the fight itself begins at 2:30 p.m. Both brawlers and spectators are welcome, and clean-up stations will be in full-effect so that participants are only moderately sticky for the afternoon.
As for Mohamed, he has plans for making this event even bigger and better next year. But for now, he has some words of advice for newbie tomato fighters.
"Bring your goggles and extra clothes, and get ready to be obnoxious and have a great time," he laughs. "This is going to be something to remember."
IF YOU GO:
Midwest Tomato Fest
July 31, Gates 11:30 a.m., 2:30 p.m. tomato fight
$30 advance, $40 door
Click here for details
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