The summer's pulpiest, juiciest, seediest event is headed west.
A year after thousands spent a late July afternoon heaving overripe fruit at one another, the second annual Midwest Tomato Fest is moving from Afton Alps to a downtown Minneapolis parking lot, the better to lure what organizers hope will be 10,000 revelers.
"We wanted to get closer to the city, closer to the lights, closer to where people are," said co-organizer Kamal Mohamed. "Last year was more like a trial to see if we could survive."
The 3,000-plus attendees might have survived last year, but many of their clothes probably were retired, even though special trucks hosed off the participants after they had finished channeling the gang in "Animal House."
This year's festivities, co-sponsored by Living Social Adventures, will be expanded mightily, with five bands plus a DJ, food trucks, improv theater, games and a beer tasting (augmented by other booze, including -- of course -- bloody marys). Tickets for the July 14 fest go on sale May 8. Some proceeds will be directed to a food drive set up by event organizers, Mohamed said.
Mohamed, a senior at the University of St. Thomas, said he had expected the event, inspired by a venerable Spanish event called La Tomatina, to lure mostly people from his age bracket. Instead, 30 percent of the crowd was over 35 and 40 percent from 25 to 35. They came dressed up in all-white, painter's coveralls and other "crazy costumes," including a coterie of pirates.
Did that band of buccaneers win? "Actually, it's not a competition," Mohamed said. "We like to look at it as a 'release your stress' event."