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The Fifth Annual Watermelon Weigh-off was held Sept. 5 in Washington, Arkansas hosted by the Old Washington Farmer’s Market, Hope-Hempstead County Chamber of Commerce, Historic Washington State Park, and the Great Pumpkin Commonwealth.
Washington is one of the over 90 sanctioned weigh-off sites around the world. This particular weigh-off event is for watermelons only. The event, held on the grounds of the Town Hall in this historic town, was brought to the area to celebrate and honor the Bright family legacy.
In 1973, Lloyd Bright and his father Ivan grew their first watermelon that was large enough to enter in the Hope Big Watermelon Contest. They took first place with their 135-pound watermelon and continued to win the Hope contest for several years. “My dad did not hunt or fish, but he liked to garden, so we gardened. It was something we did together and really enjoyed,” said Lloyd. They then began collecting the equipment needed to grow and handle large watermelons, and grow they did!
In 1979, Ivan Bright grew a then world record 200-pound watermelon on their farm. Six years later, Lloyd’s ten-year-old son Jason produced a behemoth weighing in at 260 pounds! Then, in 2005, Lloyd grew the biggest of them all, a 268.8-pound monster that was officially recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records.
Jeremy Lindley of Wynne took top honors this year with a 232.75 pound melon. This was Jeremy’s first year growing competitively although he has grown melons and pumpkins for quite a while now. He has bought seeds from Mr. Lloyd Bright himself, and they have been in correspondence through email. When asked what it took to become the winner he said that it took a lot of work, baby-sitting and luck.
Spencer Glascow of Bessemer, Alabama came in second with a 224.66 pound melon. Spencer has been growing watermelons for around three years. He mentioned that he helped to convince Jeremy to grow melons competitively. And jokingly mentioned that he taught him everything he knew.
Rounding out the top three was Mike Daniell of Arkadelphia, Arkansas with a 163.67 pound melon. Mike was the third place winner of last year. Mike and his son Colby have been competing at the weigh-off for many years. Colby is a charismatic young man with an interest in competitive growing and entering his goods in the local fairs.
The Great Pumpkin Commonwealth oversees and sanctions the results of over 90 weigh-offs across the Globe. Their mission is to cultivate the hobby of growing giant fruits and vegetables throughout the world by establishing standards and regulations that help to ensure the quality of the fruit, the fairness of the competition, the recognition of achievement, and the education for all of the participating growers and weigh-off sites.
Music, watermelon contests, fresh produce, handmade goods, and great Arkansas hospitality. It was a great day to attend the Old Washington Farmers Market’s Watermelon Weigh-off, you will not want to miss next year’s event.
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