Hold your tomatoes, annual food fight canceled for second time due to COVID-19

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A reveller covered in tomato pulp takes part in the annual “Tomatina” festival in the eastern town of Bunol, on August 28, 2019. – The iconic fiesta, which is billed at “the world’s biggest food fight” has become a major draw for foreigners, in particular from Britain, Japan and the United States. (Photo by JAIME REINA / AFP) (Photo credit should read JAIME REINA/AFP via Getty Images)

BUÑOL, Spain (NewsNation Now) — The world’s largest food fight is on hold for another year thanks to COVID-19.

Last year’s La Tomatina festival was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and organizers decided it would be too risky to hold one this year as well.

BUNOL, SPAIN – AUGUST 28: People trying caught ham during Tomatina Festival on August 28, 2019 in Bunol, Spain. The Tomatina Festival began in 1945 but was forbidden during the Franco Regime during a few years. In 2018 around 65% of the 22,000 revelers were foreign throwing around 150 tonnes of ripe tomatoes and the two rules state only tomatoes may be thrown and that they must be squashed before launch. (Photo by Borja B. Hojas/Getty Images)

La Tomatina involves tens of thousands of people throwing one hundred metric tons of tomatoes at each other in the city of Buñol, Spain.

The festival starts, though, with a large greased pole with a ham on top hoisted into the air. Whoever gets the ham gets to keep it and then the tomato throwing begins. If no one grabs the ham, tomato throwing still begins at 11 a.m.

It lasts an hour before a cannon is fired to signal the end of throwing. Then participants rinse themselves off with garden hoses. Some local businesses even put up tarps to prevent their stores from being pelted too hard with tomatoes.

BUNOL, SPAIN – AUGUST 28: People play around a Tomato Fight during Tomatina Festival on August 28, 2019 in Bunol, Spain. The Tomatina Festival began in 1945 but was forbidden during the Franco Regime during a few years. In 2018 around 65% of the 22,000 revelers were foreign throwing around 150 tonnes of ripe tomatoes and the two rules state only tomatoes may be thrown and that they must be squashed before launch. (Photo by Borja B. Hojas/Getty Images)

The annual event began in 1945, according to the official festival website. It was banned during the time Spanish Dictator Francisco Franco ruled, before returning bigger than before years later.

Organizers even added a children’s version of the traditional tomato throwing.

The town of Buñol has a population around 9,000 people according to the Spanish government and is a municipality of the larger province Valencia.

While the tomato throwing is on hold for another year, those hoping to have some virtual fun can participate in the Tomatina Experience VR.

Next year’s festival is scheduled for Aug. 31, 2022, and thousands of tomato throwers are expected to return to formally celebrate the 77 years of the event.

Photos of past festivals:

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