Thursday, August 9, 2012

Tomato Battle: Portland

IMG_8378_edited-1.JPG by gkhamilton
IMG_8378_edited-1.JPG, a photo by gkhamilton on Flickr.
FOOD FIGHT!! Kathy, me, and Brett study the art of war at Tomato Battle- Portland

If only La Tomatina festival in Buñol, Spain wasn’t so tricky to reach flying standby. On July 21, those of us Portlanders choosing to remain in the U.S. this summer assembled for the next best thing-- Tomato Battle: Portland!

Fun loving Northwest tomato warriors (14 years old and up) showed up in droves for this massive food fight/concert/costume contest at MacTarnahans. It was tomato juice drenched chaos.

Many readers will be justifiably horrified about wasting food in a world where so many needlessly go hungry. Don’t worry, no “edible” tomatoes were used as ammo. With that issue put to bed, Kathy and I each came prepared for battle with a fighting spirit and a clear conscience.

In the abridged words of the organizers:
The Tomato Battle unifies as many as 5,000 fruit-chucking fanatics for an afternoon of dancing to music and flinging 300,000 pounds of roma tomatoes at one another. Mosh in a ketchup-covered fray with live entertainment and a costume contest. At 4:00 p.m., soldiers converge on piles of past-ripe tomatoes and set about pelting people with fruits like sentient apple trees avenging the initial-carving of amorous teenagers. Beats flow until past 7 p.m., when ruddy troops lay down their arms and rinse themselves clean of pulp and juice. An extra set of clothes is highly recommended.

All of the tomatoes used during the exhibition will have been previously marked for disposal, making the Tomato Battle an efficient and entertaining use of nonedible waste. Onward.

In other words, since all that red fruit was headed for the trash anyways, it would be a waste to NOT throw these tomatoes at people.

I passed up the earlier festivities of the day in favor of spending some time with baby Lena. By the time Kathy and I showed up at MacTarnahans, Tomato Battle was already underway. Here’s what we missed:

The first few hours of music

The costume contest

The opening salvos

[Both photos above are courtesy of Kyle Helstein’s Facebook uploads and his "Clever Brilliant Mad" BlogSpot page].

Kathy and I arrived as clean as freshly laundered tube socks. We then learned, in spectacular fashion, that charging into a Tomato Battle already in progress makes you the hottest targets in the yard. A random girl cheerfully leaped up and latched onto me with a lingering tomato pulpy arms & legs bear hug. Tomatoes pelted us from all directions. The festive mob heaved, shouted, laughed, tackled, and showed no mercy.

Passing the camera around led to some interesting photos, but most of them were blurry and ludicrously framed. Here are a few good shots, mostly taken as the battle was winding down:


Sharp readers will recognize that Tomato Battle action shot of me, cropped down from my “Food Fight!” post on Tuesday. I launched a double-fisted aerial tomato counter assault on a retreating attacker. Believe me, he flung first.

This leads us to the one fatality that was inflicted during Tomato Battle. Our Canon digital camera, taken along with me on dozens of overseas trips, met a tragic demise. The camera was on its last legs anyway, so I thought it fitting to honorably send it afloat in a tomatoey grave. R.I.P., trusty friend.

It’s anyone’s guess how Kathy managed to stay so clean while my friend Brett and I got saturated with tomato slush and ketchup rain. But I and my fallen camera-in-arms shared a similar fate as we left the battlefield that day. We were both…
…completely and utterly PWNED by tomatoes.

Coming next week on BlogSpot...
My wonderful wife Kathy makes a rare appearance here on to follow up my previous International Youth Convention post with her favorite moments and photos from last month’s IYC in Denver, Colorado.

And after that, I’m praying that I’ll still be alive to blog about this upcoming weekend’s adventure:

Birthday Skydiving!!


Brett N said...

Truly amazing! It was so much fun.

I also posted my end of the story here:

Garth Hamilton said...

I'm glad you added that, Brett. I hope everyone checks out your new blog!