The tomato has long endured an identity crisis marked by associations with bad apples and a desire to be more like Nickelodeon slime. Help tomatoes achieve their dream with today's Groupon: for $13, you get one admission ticket to the Midwest Tomato Fest, held on July 31 from 11:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Afton Alps in Hastings (a $30 value).
The Midwest Tomato Fest's tomato celebration pits patrons against one another in a vegetable-fueled battle royal inspired by Spain's traditional La Tomatina festival. The festival provides a purpose for thousands of overripe, inedible tomatoes, which participants will use as ketchup-splattering grenades to make bruschetta on the bodies of their opponents. Patrons can calm their pre-battle nerves with offerings from food and beer vendors and sponsors such as Grain Belt Beer before marching into battle or cowering behind vine-covered pillboxes. To pump up participants, musicians such as the Johnny Holm Band, The Cool Kids, and headliners Shwayze and Cisco Adler enliven brandywine cavalries with energetic, tomato-inspired anthems throughout the day. All partakers of the hour-long tomato fight from 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. must wear goggles and are encouraged to dress in all white, swimsuits, or garden-camo battle fatigues, and to bring a change of clothes for canoodling with rival factions during post-war peacetime.
The Midwest Tomato Fest utilizes hundreds of pounds of spoiled tomatoes each year with the goal of raising awareness of food waste and hunger. Part of the proceeds from the event will be donated to Fight Hunger MN and the Dorothy Day House.