Melon Day

Melon Day at the Ark Valley Fair. It was a fun day, with hundreds lined up for the annual handing out of melons. The crowd was friendly and convivial, and a good time was had by all. First we had the melon seed spitting contest, then the Handing Out of The Melons, like loaves and fishes.

Here is a history of the Fair:

Ark Valley Fair History

and here is an excerpt about how Watermelon Day came to be, as written by the late Senator G.W. Swink:

The first Watermelon Day was in 1878. My crop for this year being very bountiful, I decided to invite all the people in the surrounding territory to partake in my crop. The country then being thinly settled the crowd was quite small, not more than 25 persons being present, and they being mostly from La Junta coming in a Santa Fe Caboose. I cut the melons on the grain door of a boxcar. Only one wagonload was required to feed the crowd and give all they wanted to carry home.

Cutting the melons on the grain door of a boxcar? We shudder to think of what censure Senator Swink would receive today at the hands of various watchdog health agencies. In any case, the tradition not only stayed, but grew.

Kids' Rodeo Lady in Waiting gives one a spit.

Local media mogul J.R. Thompson MC'd the affair with his usual aplomb and urbane wit, while Laura tongue-lashed Bart for getting wrong the names of members of the Rocky Ford great and near-great, in their respective civic roles.

Melons were handed out with cool efficiency by friendly meloneers. The National Guard provided trucks to haul the melons to the fair grounds.

This young lady found a comfortable seat while waiting for various politicians to be introduced to the crowd, who applauded enthusiastically. We can only express surprise that the politicians lost the opportunity to dispense the largesse.

Fair-goers lined up across the field and well out into the fairgrounds, almost to the Expo building, to receive melons. Below we have shots of the handing out: