As the seconds ticked away at the end of the Tomato Bash in Beaufort on Saturday, Max Crisologo grabbed his friend Taylor McDaniel and body slammed him into a pile of the crushed red fruit.
McDaniel laughed and, as payback, ground a tomato in Crisologo's face.
The 10-minute tomato-throwing free-for-all was the main feature at Beaufort's first Tomato Festival, an event meant to play off the area's strong history -- particularly on nearby St. Helena Island -- of tomato farming and packing in the summer.
The festival also included an obstacle course 5K race, a fun run for kids, a petting zoo, bounce houses and beer and food stands.
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The Tomato Bash, however, brought the sauciest response.
And the most mess.
The tomatoes -- 10,000 pounds of them -- were lobbed, tossed and hurled through the air by a small crowd of brave participants, many of whom folded their shirt fronts to stockpile fruit arsenals for the fight.
It was "violent and tasty" and "a lot of fun" Crisologo said of the battle, his white shirt wringing-wet with pink slime and seeds.
"I (took) some nasty head shots," McDaniel added, his hair a mass of tomato chunks.
Rules required participants to crush the tomatoes before throwing them, but that rule wasn't always strictly followed.
Mac Griffith of Beaufort took several painful thwacks to his back and lower extremities (the green tomatoes were the hardest, he said), but was in good spirits at the end of the fight.
He and longtime friend Addie Everidge, also of Beaufort, formed an army of two in the melee but sometimes turned on one another. They also showed off other talents: Griffith juggled a handful of the fruit it while Everidge planted one atop his head.
Despite the resulting seedy goo and marinara stench, both said they would do the bash again.
As the bashers headed off to get hosed down, event emcee and radio host Bob Bradley of 94.5 The Coast , signaled the end by counting down the final seconds.
As the slimy soldiers disbanded, he quipped, "We all taste like pizza now."