'Epic, messy' event afoot

Step aside La Tomatina, Cherry Chaos is coming to Roxburgh.

In what is intended to become a signature event for the town, teams taking part will have to navigate a series of hurdles while being pelted with tonnes of mushy reject cherries.

Teviot Prospects member Brigitte Paterson, of Roxburgh, said although she did not want to give too much away just yet, the January 18 competition would be a battle.

''It will be epic and it will be messy. We are thinking [it will be like] La Tomatina in Spain. It should be a good spectator sport.''

La Tomatina is an annual festival in Spain where people gather and throw tomatoes at each other, using up to about 40 tonnes of the fruit.

Mrs Paterson said the event, organised by Teviot Prospects, a community plan action group, was set to go ahead next year for the first time, before becoming an annual fixture.

The competition was a result of a long-term push to establish a signature event for the town, she said.

''We decided that because the rest of Central Otago do wine and food and harvest [events] so well, we needed to do something different. It was a tongue-in-cheek idea that became a reality.''

A cherry grower was already on board and would provide reject fruit for the war.

While a venue had not been confirmed, the one-day event would be held in the town.

Expected numbers were not known, but the town's population trebled during January due to holiday-makers, and the competition would be family oriented, Mrs Paterson said.

''It's really different, and we expect we will probably get a lot of youth involved.''

Entry would probably require a donation from competitors to cover costs, and any leftover funds would contribute to community projects.

Teviot Prospects would be likely to invite other groups who could provide food and add to the theme of the day, Mrs Paterson said.

-leith.huffadine@odt.co.nz

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