If you happen to find yourself in the small Valencian town of Buñol on the last Wednesday in August, you'd better wear your galoshes and goggles: that's the day that the entire town—along with some 22,000 tourists—erupts into the world's biggest food fight, throwing tomatoes at one another in an hour-long frenzy of blood-red pulp and seeds. The festival, known as La Tomatina, has been a major draw for the Spanish town since it began in 1945. The roots of the event go back to a couple of rowdy children who barged into a parade after being barred from entering; in doing so, they accidentally knocked one of the festival's participants to the ground. Furious, the man leapt to his feet and grabbed tomatoes from a nearby produce stand, flinging them at the rambunctious children. The event quickly expanded, bringing as many as 40,000 tourists into the tiny town in 2012 (effectively quadrupling its normal population of 9,000). The influx of tourists helped to make the festival a major international attraction, but over-crowding also led to safety concerns. In 2013, to curb crowds, the city began charging outsiders an admission fee of €10 ($13). This year, ticket sales brought €170,000 (around $224,000) in revenue to the town.
Buñol is famous for its tomato production, but the festival demands a tomato-repository of almost epic proportions—this year, participants threw 250,000 pounds of tomatoes, grown especially for the festival, at one another.