tomato battle

So, here I am in Dallas! Hope you're all keeping up on where I've been the last three weeks. For a quick recap, I just finished up in Oregon and went from Portland » Yellowstone, WY » Kansas City, MO » Omaha, NE » Columbia, MO » KC » Dallas, for a grand total of ten states. tomato battleAnd now here I am in Dallas! I lived here for a short period when I was 12 in a small suburb near Plano. All I really recall is singing the Texas anthem a lot, picking up "y'all" and visiting Southfork Ranch, where the legendary show "Dallas" was filmed (even though I had never seen it. Thanks Mom and Dad). We only lived here for six months so it was quite fleeting.

tomato battle dallasBut now I'm back as the fall photo intern with The Dallas Morning News. This past week has already been amazing and I can tell I'm going to be learning a lot from this staff. I'm glad I have The Oregonian under my belt because now I feel much more comfortable with just plopping right down and getting started. And oh boy have they got me started.

tomato battle dallasOn Saturday I went out to the state fairgrounds to cover the Tomato Battle, an organized food fight with 300,000 overripe Roma tomatoes in the tradition of Spain's Tomatino festival. I was pretty stoked for the event — I had seen pictures from former DMN intern and MU alum Taylor Glascock when she covered it last yearand it looked like some crazy fun. I think I may have forgotten to read what she actually wrote in her blog post, though. Typical photographer.

tomato battle dallasSo, being on my classic intern budget, I gathered the supplies that I constantly carry in the back of my car for situations such as this — a poncho, black rainboots and black trash bags — except those suppplies are typically to prevent rain, not flying tomato bits. I added my ThinkTank fanny pack for extra nerdiness, packed with my notebook, phone, a dish towel and a camera cleaning cloth. I figured I was set.

tomato battleAnd, well, I was pretty much set. I had 80% of my body and clothing covered, with the exception of my knees and, most importantly, my head. Yeah. Tip to next year's intern: Bring a helmet (apparently this is a new intern hazing ritualtradition). Tomatoes hurt.

I'm still not really sure how this is an activity that so many people come out to for fun. Mud is fun. Water balloon fights are fun. But did you know that tomatoes are hard? Most of my experience with tomatoes has been gleefully cutting them up to enjoy in a salad, or squished up into ketchup. I think this was a tomato revenge battle. Having only ever eaten tomatoes and avoided having one pegged at my head until today, I was blissfully ignorant.

food fightBut today I am more the wiser. I was at the front lines of the Tomato Battle, determined in my first week at my internship to be a gung-ho intern, ready for anything. But the least misleading thing about this event was definitely the word "battle." Stuck on the island of tomatoes in the center of a parking lot, I was in the midst of red, juicy, saucy combat. After just a few minutes, my mission turned from making awesome pictures to impress my new editors to making decent pictures and avoid getting my camera nailed by a tomato.

food fight tomatoesI spent what seemed like long enough in the center of the tomato battle when I decided to retreat to the fringes of the event. But there I was — press pass, trash-bag-covered camera, seriously nerdy poncho. I looked too prepared. People knew I did not want to get messy. And they were not going to let me get away with it. The only thing I could do was not take their picture out of revenge. They know what they did.

tomato battleAfter about 30 minutes, I was done. I had enough of what I needed, plus I didn't know if my camera could take anymore — I had done fairly well keeping it out of harm's way with my trash bags and constant wiping with the towel I brought along. But tomato bits were starting to dry into the crevices of the dials and buttons and I was determined not to let the tomato win. With tomato chunks on my shoulder, seeds all stuck up in my ponytail, and the skin of tomato drying on my rainboots, I headed off to find my car. I had apparently parked it a mile away and forgotten where that was. I am such an intern.

tomato battle