The world has creative ways of celebrating farmers’ crops
By Diego Flammini
Celebrity chef Giada De Laurentiis says “food brings people together on many different levels. It’s nourishment of the soil and body; it’s truly love.”
Festivals around the world pay homage to farmers’ harvests, and eventgoers are always willing to celebrate the food they are fortunate enough to enjoy.
Here are nine festivals that put food in the spotlight.
La Tomatina, perhaps one of the most well-known food festivals, has occurred on the last Wednesday of August since 1945 in Buñol, Spain.
The hour-long event consists of thousands of people throwing tomatoes at one another for entertainment. Individuals throw about 145,000 kg of tomatoes each year.
Firemen hose down the streets afterwards, and the acid from the tomatoes leaves the streets quite clean.
Pittston, Penn., also has a variation of La Tomatina during the Pittston Tomato Festival.
Noche de Los Rábanos (Night of The Radishes)
This Mexican festival is dedicated to carving oversized radishes for the chance to win prizes.
The Mexican government dedicates a plot of land to grow the radishes for the competition. Some of the vegetables are up to 50 cm (19 inches) in length and can weigh up to 3 kg (6 lbs).
The first event took place on Dec. 23, 1897 in Oaxaca, Mexico and has been held on the same date since.
Originally, farmers used the carvings to attract people to their market stands. People soon started buying the carvings to use as centerpieces for Christmas dinners.
Chinchilla Melon Festival
Chinchilla, Australia is recognized as the country’s melon capital, and this festival puts watermelons front and centre.
During the festival, visitors can participate in such activities as the Dash for Cash and Melon Skiing. In the dash competition, participants try to outrun their friends on a course of slippery watermelon skins. In the skiing event, people wear watermelons on their feet and try to travel as far as they can.
Watermelon growers are also on hand to take part in the Big Melon Weigh-In competition. The biggest melon recorded at the festival weighed 87.5 kg (192 lbs).
The next festival takes place Feb. 13, 2019.
Potato Days Festival
This annual August festival in Barnesville, Minn., celebrates potatoes with everything from a potato cook-off and mashed potato wrestling to potato car races and a potato picking contest.
The festival started in 1938 to celebrate a successful potato harvest.
Cooper’s Hill Cheese-Rolling and Wake
This infamous cheese celebration features people from around the world hurtling themselves down a hill near Gloucester, England to win with a wheel of cheese.
A nine-pound (4.1kg) wheel of Double Gloucester cheese is sent down the hill first and the participants follow soon after. Whoever crosses the finish line first wins the race and the cheesy prize.
The festival is known for footage of people losing their balance and tumbling to the finish line.
The event can be traced back to about 1826.
Fête du Citron (Lemon Festival)
This citrus celebration in Menton, France (the country’s top lemon-producing region) has occurred since 1928.
At the time, a hotel owner wanted to organize an exhibition of flowers and citrus fruit.
The February festival uses about 120 tons of citrus fruit annually to decorate structures and floats in a theme. The theme in 2018 was Bollywood.
The next lemon festival runs from Feb. 16 to Mar. 3, 2019.
Giant Omelet Celebration
This Abbeville, Louisiana event is aptly named, as the star of the festival is a giant omelet.
Last year, cooks used 5,033 eggs to make the omelet.
The history of the giant omelet stretches to the time of Napoleon.
He stayed at an inn in the south of France and ate an omelet prepared by the local innkeeper. The dish was so good, Napoleon ordered the locals to collect all the eggs they could so the innkeeper could make the same omelet for his whole army.
The next Giant Omelet Celebration will take place Nov. 3 and 4, 2018.
Battle of the Oranges
The Battle of the Oranges takes place in Ivrea, Italy, and re-enacts a historical event.
The festivals origins date back to the 12th century.
A tyrant, Rainieri di Biandrate, kidnapped a woman the night before her wedding. After she escaped, the community stormed the tyrant’s palace and burned it down.
The Battle of the Oranges divides people into nine teams. Some teams represent the residents and some represent the tyrant’s army. The villager teams throw oranges at the tyrannical soldiers, simulating old weapons and rocks.
The next festival runs from Mar. 2 to 5, 2019.
Humongous Fungus Fest
This mushroom celebration in Crystal Falls, Michigan, honors what’s been dubbed the “Humongous Fungus.”
The mushroom belongs to the Armillaria Bulbosa species and covers about 37 underground acres. It weighs about 21,000 pounds and is the world’s largest, oldest contiguous living organism.
During the festival, participants can see the mushroom and enjoy giant mushroom pizzas.
Top photo: An eagle carved from radishes during Noche de Los Rabanos