The Old Washington Farmers’ Market hosted an official watermelon weigh-off site for the Great Pumpkin Commonwealth this morning, and growers from across six states showed to find out if their melons could measure against all others. Participants from Kentucky, Alabama, Oklahoma, Missouri, Louisiana, and Arkansas entered the contest to see who would get the cash prizes for the largest weighed watermelon.
Josh Williams, Curator at Historic Washington State Park, said Old Washington Farmers’ Market has been doing this for 13 years now, and he said it was an important tradition to continue. “The Great Pumpkin Commonwealth promotes the growing of world-record vegetables and fruits,” Williams said. “People not only get prize money for their efforts, but they are also entered into the world-record stats to compete worldwide. I think it's also important to continue the tradition we have here in Hempstead County of growing world-record watermelons.”
Williams said a question often asked regarding this event is why is it not held during the Watermelon Festival. He said that watermelons of this size aren't quite ready at festival time and growers need a few more weeks before they can harvest. Williams also made special mention of the event's sponsors, who made it possible for these participants to have the cash prizes: Holiday Inn Express, Best Western, Hampton Inn Suites, LaGrone Williams Hardware, and Washington Tourism.
The winners of the watermelon weigh-off are as follows:
Youth Winner ($75 cash prize) - Charles Meeh from Red Oak, Oklahoma with a 122.9 lb watermelon
1st prize ($500 cash prize) - Joseph Young from Paducah, Kentucky with a 236.9 lb watermelon
2nd prize ($300 cash prize) - Steven Jackson of Spruce Pine, Alabama with a 209.8 lb watermelon
3rd prize ($200 cash prize) - Barbara Bright Jones of Bossier City, Louisiana with a 196.6 lb watermelon