Tomato pasted

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About 20 people participate in first ‘Tomato Conflict’

By Stephen Lega

A group of about 20 people participated in the inaugural Marion County Tomato Conflict, and many of them hope to do it again.
“It was the most unusual, awesome day,” said Genesis Blair, 16, of Louisville, who spent much of the fight tossing tomatoes at her parents and brother.
Her parents, James and Connie Blair, didn’t even mind that the start of the fight was delayed (the fight was scheduled for 4 p.m., but didn’t officially get going until around 5:45). James Blair said they would definitely come back if they had the chance to do it again.
“Every weekend,” Connie Blair added.
A few members of the Gravel Switch Fire Department came to Popes Creek Ranch to provide water to help participants clean up after the fight, but they wound up joining in the fun, too.
“It was a blast. I really enjoyed it,” said Rachel Lewis, the fire department’s secretary.
While the crowd may not have been as large as David Neville (the Popes Creek Ranch manager) had hoped for, he was still positive about the event.
“It went like it should have gone — not in terms of the number of people — but everyone had fun squishing tomatoes and throwing ‘em,” Neville said.
The event may also bring some additional publicity to the ranch. A television crew was on hand to film footage for “Off the Map with Shannen & Holly.” The show is being filmed for the Great American Country and scheduled to premiere in 2015, according to tvguide.com.
The show’s hosts are actresses Shannen Doherty and Holly Marie Combs.
Doherty and Combs also got in the middle of the fight. They rode on a cart that carried the tomatoes — and passed between the participants — which made Combs and Doherty both ammunition suppliers and targets.
After the fight, participants could hang around to listen to music by South 49 and Craig Wayne Boyd.
Sarah Gribbins, a Marion County resident, brought her son and one of his friends. She said she was upset with how things went.
Gribbins said she visited the Lebanon Tourist and Convention Commission website Saturday morning, and she was under the impression that spectators would get in free. Instead, she said she was charged the same admission as the participants, although she refused to pay admission for her 4-week-old baby.
She also said she thought they would be using rotten tomatoes, but instead she felt like they wasted good tomatoes.
“It was poorly orchestrated. For such a wonderful place, you would think they would have it more together,” Gribbins said.
Rebecca Freihart of Louisville brought her sons and her nephew to the fight. Like some other participants, she said she heard about it on WHAS radio.
She said it would have been better if the tomatoes were rotten and with more people, but she still had fun.
“It was an experience. That was the goal,” Freihart said.
Joel Steele and his wife, Laura, made the trip from Shelbyville. Steele said he found out about the tomato fight Tuesday on WHAS. He added that if they had known about it sooner, then they would have brought more people with them.
Nevertheless, he and Laura were smiling, even as they tried to squish a few more tomatoes on one another.
“It was a lot of fun,” Steele said.