TWIN LAKES, COLO. -- Outnumbered Texans, preparing to take revenge for Colorado's onslaught of Texas jokes in the best tradition of the Alamo, hope to win one for a change this weekend in the sixth annual Colorado-Texas Tomato War.
About 600 combatants are expected to plunk down $39 for T-shirts and tomatoes and fling six tons of the soft and rotten reds at each other beginning at high noon Saturday.
But only about 250 of them are expected to be Texans, putting them in the underdog role right off the bat.
The Texans set up an Alamo replica on the hillside and "it's the last stronghold to fall," said John Berg of Leadville, Colo., an expatriate Texan who has fought in four tomato wars on behalf of the Lone Star State.
"I'm sort of the resident Texan up here, not the most popular thing to be, but this weekend I get even," said Berg.
It doesn't hurt -- not much anyway -- to die in the tomato war. A good splat with a juicy red one on the torso eliminates a soldier from the action, providing a good excuse to visit a MASH unit for a Bloody Mary.
The winners -- those who last the day with clean shirts -- win bragging rights for another year. So far, Texas has won only once.
The losers, however, get a consolation prize -- use of the Nordic Inn at Twin Lakes for festivities Saturday night.
Texans' fondness of Colorado as a vacation spot is at the root of the event, begun by Taylor Adams of Leadville, commanding general of the Colorado forces.
Texans pour into Colorado's mountains by the thousands, winter and summer. Their camping vehicles clog the highways in summer, their skiers crowd the slopes in the winter, and their hunters seem to turn the ground orange during October.
While they do bring money, they also become the butt of jokes throughout Colorado. It doesn't help that it was the Dallas Cowboys who defeated the Denver Broncos in the 1978 Super Bowl, ending a magical season for the Broncos.
"Beautify Colorado: Put a Texan on a Bus" is one of the more popular lines in Colorado.
Some of the Texan jokes are even more wicked. "How do you tell the difference between a dead Texan and a dead coyote along the highway? There are skid marks in front of the coyote."
Few Texans are amused.
Several years ago, then-Gov. Richard Lamm of Colorado ignited a small interstate feud when he told a Texas joke in public. Then-Gov. Mark White of Texas retaliated.
Lately, the talk has been of the states' new governors, Roy Romer of Colorado and William Clements of Texas, possibly joining the tomato fray next year.
Angela de Rocha, who moved to Grand Junction from El Paso, Tex., four months ago, said she was "totally unaware of these jokes until I moved here." She intends to battle for her beloved Texas this weekend. "I don't know why anybody would take offense at Texans," she said. "We have senses of humor, and any state that could produce a Lyndon Johnson can't be all bad."
She also thinks references to the Alamo promote the "wrong attitude. "We should fight it like the Battle of San Jacinto, when the Texans chased the Mexicans out for good."
One of the reasons the Texans are outnumbered might be ignorance of the event, a Texas newspaper reporter told the Colorado Springs Gazette-Telegraph