‘The Great Bull Run and Tomato Royale’ is the name given by the good citizens of Richmond, Virginia to a festival that is being celebrated for the first time, and which has been consciously copied from the internationally famous ‘Tomatina’ of Buñol, Valencia.
The Tomatina festival had already captured the imagination of Hollywood and Bollywood, appearing in the films ‘We Need to talk about Kevin’ with Tina Swinton and the insightfully entitled Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara.
On their website http://www.thegreatbullrun.com/photos/sample/ the organisers provide photos of the events, although unfortunately they seem to be under the impression that the Tomatina is part of the San Fermin festival.
Various American states such as Georgia, Texas, Florida, California, Minnesota, Illinois and Pennsylvania are participating in the initiative to transplant Spanish festivals such as San Fermin in the US, such is their popularity there.
The festival, ‘La Tomatina’, dates back to August 1945 when a group of youngsters started throwing vegetables at each other until the police arrived.
During the following years, young people would turn up each August with more vegetables (the tomato becoming a favourite due to its messiness) and the police would turn up and do their bit too.
During the 50s it was briefly banned, but popular demand (not a common occurrence under Franco) brought it back after the local people had carried a coffin with a tomato inside accompanied through the streets by the local band.
In 1957 the festival was legalized and the Town Hall took over its organization, despite which it has survived and prospered, and now attracts an international crowd almost comparable with San Fermin.