In Festival Guide

Get ready to make a mess next month. (PHOTO: East Side Facebook)

Warm up your throwing arm: The Tomato Romp Festival returns on Sept. 7

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The 13th annual Tomato Romp Festival returns to the East Side on Saturday, Sept. 7 in a day of eating, drinking and throwing over-ripe tomatoes!

The East Side's Rotten Tomato Fight for Hunger is North America's first Tomatina-inspired rotten tomato fight, with all tomato fight proceeds donated to help end hunger in our community. Funds raised by the Rotten Tomato Fight for Hunger will go toward Riverwest Food Pantry's Healthy Food Fund. These funds try to lessen low-income families' reliance on unhealthy food because they cannot afford fresh produce.

"At the Riverwest Food Pantry, we've made a commitment to our community that we will promote and distribute the healthiest food possible. That's why we distribute more than 70,000 pounds (and growing) of fresh produce and a growing portion of the 270,000 pounds of food our 13,000 shoppers access annually is low sodium, no sugar and whole grain." said Vincent Noth, executive director of the Riverwest Food Pantry.

The other half of the day is the endlessly popular Smirnoff Vodka Bloody Mary Challenge among East North Avenue establishments. East Side bars and restaurants compete to bring the best Smirnoff Bloody Mary, paired with a Miller High Life pony chaser, to the voting community. The people will choose a winner, as will a group of celebrity judges. The winner of the People's Choice will host the East Side BID's next Cocktails & Conversations on Sept. 18. Challenge ballots can be purchased in advance by visiting tomatoromp.com or on Sept. 7 at the registration desk on the corner of North Avenue and Farwell Avenue. A ballot purchase of $30 ($35 after Sept. 5) entitles the "voter" a 5-ounce Bloody Mary sample and beer chaser from each of the participating establishments.

Tomato Romp registration begins at 10 a.m., with the Smirnoff Vodka Bloody Mary Challenge served from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at participating East Side bars. The Rotten Tomato Fight for Hunger will commence at 3:30 p.m. at the Tomato Fight location on North Murray Avenue between East North Avenue and East Thomas Avenue. The Tomato Romp is hosted by the East Side Business Improvement District.

Registration: 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

Register for the Rotten Tomato Fight and get your Bloody Mary voting ballot on the corner of North and Farwell

Smirnoff Vodka Bloody Mary Challenge: 11 a.m.-3 p.m.

The 13th annual Smirnoff Vodka Bloody Mary challenge takes place among the East Side's favorite bars and restaurants. Those of legal drinking age can purchase an official Smirnoff Vodka Bloody Mary Challenge ballot in advance by visiting www.tomatoromp.com or on Sept. 7 on the corner of North and Farwell. A ballot purchase of $30 ($35 after 9/5) entitles the "voter" a 5 oz Bloody Mary sample and beer chaser from each of the participating establishments. The crowning of the judges' favorites and people's choice will be prior to the Rotten Tomato Fight.

The Rotten Tomato Fight for Hunger: 3:30 p.m.

Title sponsor Maglio & Company will provide 8,000 pounds of inedible, over-ripe tomatoes for the Rotten Tomato Fight for Hunger. There is an entrance fee of $10, which includes a pair of goggles and a free T-shirt, with all fight proceeds donated to the Riverwest Food Pantry. Thirteen years ago, Milwaukee was the first in America to host a Rotten Tomato Fight, inspired by La Tomatina in Spain, and now the event is imitated in cities across the country. The tomatoes will fly, splatter and smash on North Murray Avenue between East North Avenue and East Thomas Avenue. The Milwaukee Fire Department will be on-hand to hose down participants after the fight.

Registration details: Must be 16 or older to participate. Advanced registration is available by visiting tomatoromp.com and in-person registration begins at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 7. The Milwaukee Fire Department will be on-hand to hose down participants after the fight. The fight is free to watch!

For more information, visit tomatoromp.com or call (262) 930-7707.

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