A good time seemed to be had by all at the 2020 Tomato War on Saturday, Sept. 26, hosted by The Corona’s at Freshwater saloon in Guffey, as both sides, the Texans and the Coloradans, hurled 600 pounds of overripe tomatoes at each other. All proceeds and donations went to the Rocky Mountain Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
“Generalisimo” Larry Bunte, event organizer from Lakewood, was a participant in the first annual tomato wars, which were started by Taylor Adams, owner of Inn of the Black Wolf in Twin Lakes, in 1982 and ended in the 1990s. Bunte knew Bob and Marci Cain, whose son died of cystic fibrosis at 29 years old, and also had connections in the Guffey area. They came up with the idea of having the now annual tomato war in Guffey. The Freshwater was happy to sponsor the event on their lawn.
About 30 participants, equally divided between Colorado and Texas, got instructions and rules from Bunte, knelt down on one knee, and ran toward the flats of tomatoes out on the lawn at the sound of “Go!” and began throwing tomatoes at their opponents. The Texans had a straw bale “Tomalamo” next to the Red River, a small, dry gulch running through the lawn, to defend from the Coloradans.
Technically, you were out of the war once you got hit on the T-shirt with a tomato, but for a $5 donation you could buy back your life and re-enter the fray.
There was a brief ceasefire when the medics with a stretcher, actually a real nurse and a real EMT/firefighter, came onto the battlefield to administer Bloody Mary Mix to the wounded through their IV lines.
Probably due to the sunshine, the heat and the altitude, after about an hour, the participants really slowed down and then took an extended refreshment break.
There was a table where one could purchase a Tomato War 2020 T-shirt; a raffle ticket for a three-night stay at Bunte’s second house in Green Mountain, which is an Air B & B; or a tomato war knit hat with a little yarn tomato on top. Bunte’s mother, who is 87 years old and lives in Chicago, knit 64 of those hats especially for this event, he said.
The Rocky Mountain Cystic Fibrosis Foundation was founded in 1955. Their mission is “to cure cystic fibrosis and to provide all people with the disease the opportunity to lead full, productive lives by funding research and drug development, promoting individualized treatment, and ensuring access to high-quality, specialized card,” according to the foundation brochure.
Cystic fibrosis is a rare, genetic disease that shortens life and makes it progressively harder for one to breathe. 30,000 people are living with cystic fibrosis in the United States and more than 10 million Americans are symptom-less carriers of the defective cystic fibrosis gene, stated the brochure.
After the break, the war resumed with each side capturing each other’s flag many times. When the 600 pounds of ammo was gone, a truce was called and a draw announced. “Peace between the States was affirmed! There was a belief that general animosities would return and all combatants would commit to hostilities in 2021,” stated Bunte. Live music started at 3 p.m.
Participants came from New York City, Illinois, Denver, Colorado Springs, Manitou, Guffey and Twin Lakes.
Hopefully next year the Tomato War will be in Buena Vista. A big “Thank You” to The Corona’s at Freshwater for the space; Di Tomaso Farms for the 600 pounds of tomatoes; and to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.