By Lori Fredrich Senior Writer & Dining Editor Published Sep 05, 2018 at 2:01 PM

It’s almost time for the 12th annual Tomato Romp, which takes place on Saturday, Sept. 8. And you won’t want to miss this East Side festival celebrating food, drink and the gratifyingly splatterific pleasure of throwing overripe tomatoes.

Need a few reasons to attend? Read on.

1. Drink up!

For a mere $25, attendees can participate in the Absolut Vodka Bloody Mary Challenge from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. This tomato-forward competition features Bloody Marys from eight area bars, complete with Bauhaus Brewlabs chasers. All ticket holders are eligible to taste 5-ounce Bloody Mary samples from each participating venue and vote for their favorite. Even better, the winner of the People’s Choice award will be featured as the specialty cocktail at the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts through the run of the Broadway touring presentation of Something Rotten (Oct. 16-21).

2. Romp & stomp

Of course, before you down all those Bloody Marys, you could do something good for your bod. At 9:30 a.m., join Shred415 East Side for a Tomato Romp Stomp bootcamp workout to kick-off the rest of the tomato-filled day. For just $20, you get a 45-minute outdoor workout, a paid entry fee for the Rotten Tomato Fight for Hunger, and an East Side #shredsquad muscle tee or T-shirt.

3. Get messy!

Over 8,000 pounds of donated overripe, inedible tomatoes from Maglio & Company will be in play during the infamous Rotten Tomato Fight, which will be held at 4 p.m. on North Murray Avenue between North and Thomas Avenues. A $10 ticket includes safety goggles and the rare opportunity to throw tomatoes at other people without consequence.

Participants must be at least 16 years of age. Advanced registration is available by visiting tomatoromp.com and in-person registration begins at 10 a.m. A post-romp wash-off station will be hosted by Educators Credit Union on Murray Avenue. Prefer to stay clean? The fight is free for spectators.

4. Show your Milwaukee pride.

Milwaukee holds the distinct honor of being the first city in North America to hold a rotten tomato fight. Inspired by the annual La Tomatina in Spain, the Milwaukee romp is the longest-running fight of its kind in America. And that makes it pretty darn cool.

5. Support a great cause.

All tomato fight proceeds will go to support a local charity. This year’s goal is to raise $3,000 for the Riverwest Food Pantry. Funds raised by the Rotten Tomato Fight for Hunger will go toward Riverwest Food Pantry’s Healthy Food Fund, an effort which aims to reduce hunger and increase health in low-income communities. The food pantry distributes more than 60,000 pounds of fresh produce annually to over 12,000 recipients.

Tickets for the tomato fight and the Bloody Mary Challenge are available at tomatoromp.com.

Lori Fredrich Senior Writer & Dining Editor

Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club. 

When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.