Food Fight! Tomato Throwers Unload in Spain

Annual Spanish fiesta takes place amid local pols' objections about privatization

By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff

Posted Aug 27, 2014 4:27 PM CDT

(Newser) – Corruption, alleged sweetheart deals, political infighting—exactly what you'd expect from a Spanish festival in which scantily clad participants gulp down sangria and paella and hurl tomatoes at each other. The annual Tomatina fiesta—sometimes referred to as the "world's biggest food fight"—took place today after trucks deposited 125 tons of the fracas-worthy fruit in the streets of Buñol, reports the AP. What the stained, sloshed attendees likely didn't care about: the pulp friction behind the scenes regarding this year's privatization of the event.

Past festivals have been marred by too many revelers—up to 40,000 in some years—and safety issues, so officials in the debt-ridden town hired private company Spaintastic last year to sell tickets to non-residents and limited the number of partying slots to 22,000, notes the Local. With tickets going for $13 a pop, the town raised at least $224,000 this year to line its coffers. But authorities from the conservative Popular Party accuse United Left officials who run the town of "arbitrarily" awarding Spaintastic the contract without getting bids from other companies, reports AFP via the Local. "We cannot look the other way when there has been a suspected case of corruption in an illegal privatization of the festival," a PP spokesman says.

People throw tomatoes at each other during the annual Tomatina fiesta in the village of Bunol, outside Valencia, Spain, on Aug. 27, 2014.
People throw tomatoes at each other during the annual Tomatina fiesta in the village of Bunol, outside Valencia, Spain, on Aug. 27, 2014.   (AP Photo/Alberto Saiz)
A man gets hit with tomatoes during the annual Tomatina festival in the village of Bunol.
A man gets hit with tomatoes during the annual Tomatina festival in the village of Bunol.   (AP Photo/Alberto Saiz)
A man attempts to clean the remains of tomatoes from outside his house after the annual Tomatina festival.
A man attempts to clean the remains of tomatoes from outside his house after the annual Tomatina festival.   (AP Photo/Alberto Saiz)
A woman lies in a puddle of tomato juice during the annual Tomatina fiesta.
A woman lies in a puddle of tomato juice during the annual Tomatina fiesta.   (AP Photo/Alberto Saiz)
Crowds of people throw tomatoes at each other during the Tomatina fest.
Crowds of people throw tomatoes at each other during the Tomatina fest.   (AP Photo/Alberto Saiz)
A man lies in a puddle of squashed tomatoes during the Tomatina fest.
A man lies in a puddle of squashed tomatoes during the Tomatina fest.   (AP Photo/Alberto Saiz)
A man dives into a puddle of squashed tomatoes.
A man dives into a puddle of squashed tomatoes.   (AP Photo/Alberto Saiz)
A woman lies on a puddle of tomato juice during the annual food fight.
A woman lies on a puddle of tomato juice during the annual food fight.   (AP Photo/Alberto Saiz)
Tomato revelers have at it during the annual festival.
Tomato revelers have at it during the annual festival.   (AP Photo/Alberto Saiz)
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