Sometimes a little good, clean fun leaves you covered in ketchup. Come next month, the fruit will be flying in Mountain City in the region’s first Tomato Battle according to Pete Cleaveland, executive director of the Rabun County Convention & Visitors Bureau.
The creation of financiers Clint Nelson and Max Kramer, Tomato Battle is a day of music, beer and tomato throwing that organizers founded “to give people the best day of their lives,” and Rabun County’s first organized tomato fight will debut at Blue Ridge Camp in Mountain City on Nov. 5 and 6. This will also be the first Tomato Battle east of the Mississippi. “Once again we can thank Joey and Lori Waldman of Blue Ridge Camp for bringing this event and an estimated 3,000 to 4,000 visitors to Rabun County,” said Cleaveland.
The event was born out of another projectile-hurling event the men hosted annually among friends. Spokeswoman Jules Jones said that Nelson, Kramer, and their friends would take boats out on a lake for their yearly “pirates versus vikings” water balloon fight. “They just love big, fun fights,” Jones said. “They wanted to think of something that was scalable with many, many more people. You can’t take yourself too seriously when you’re rolling around in a ton of ketchup with a bunch of other people.”
So rather than try to fill thousands of water balloons, Nelson and Kramer found that produce destined for the compost heap or the landfill were ripe for the picking. Sometimes the surplus comes from local farmers, sometimes from food banks that weren’t able to make use of the produce before it became unfit for human consumption. Whatever the case, Jones said that they expect about three semis full of the fruits to roll up to Blue Ridge Camp come the first weekend in November in what will be the fourth event put on by the Seattle-based company.
The first sloppy showdown was staged in June at a ski resort in Copper Mountain, Colo., where 2,000 people and some 60,000 pounds of tomatoes clashed. The people won. Jones said that since the Copper Mountain event, the response has been overwhelming. The number of Tomato Battle fans on Facebook was at 13,000 and counting, growing by about 1,000 people a week, she said.
“We would like for Tomato Battle to be an annual event in every location that we visit,” Jones said. “We’ll go anywhere we can get tomatoes and find the right venue and the crowd of people that want to attend,” she said. In fact, the organizers will have to ship tomatoes in for the Mountain City event. Attendees have the option to participate or to just watch the tomatoes fly.
“We just want our events to be a positive experience for everyone,” Jones said. “It sort of sells itself to the people who want to be involved.”
Organizers encourage attendees to not only to bring a change of clothes but also to show up dressed in costume. A costume contest will be held. Roman soldiers, men donning only Speedos and bow ties, and friends who created team T-shirts were among those Jones said participated in Copper Mountain’s costume contest, which was won by a “bride” and her “bridesmaid” friends.
The Mountain City Tomato Battle is open to attendees 14 years and older and is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. on Nov 5. Events will include live entertainment, beer, a costume contest, the Tomato Battle, more beer and live entertainment. Dirty Battle (mud) is on Sunday, Nov. 6, and is similar to Tomato Battle, just substitute mud for tomatoes. Ticket prices are $29.99 for attendees either day and $49.99 for both days.
Learn more and register at www.tomatobattle.com.