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Nearly 20,000 pounds of watermelon given away at 141st Watermelon Day in Rocky Ford

Posted at 5:50 PM, Aug 18, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-18 20:37:11-04

ROCKY FORD – A tradition that gets sweeter with age, the 141st Watermelon Day took place at the Arkansas Valley Fair in Rocky Ford Saturday.

It is the oldest, continuous fair in Colorado and guests get a free watermelon just for showing up! The line up of the deilghtful event included a 5 and 10k race, a flower show, needlework exhibits, a beer garden and more.

News 5 Photojournalist Carl Winder caught how people are celebrating the prized crop in many different ways.

Not your average contest, but one many get involved in, a seed spitting contest. “Seed spitting, you never really know it just happens, it can land in front of you or it can go as far as it can or pretty much anything can happen,” said a participant.

Visitors also showed their skills in a watermelon carving contest.  “I love carving the watermelons, I decorated all the wooden watermelons put it up on some rocks, made a wagon out of it,” said a participant.

Fair Manager, Sally Cope said the National Guard brought loads of melons to give away with nearly 20,000 pounds typically given away at each event.

People come near and far to get their free delectable melon.

“My mother always comes out here two hours early so we are the first ones in line so we can get the biggest watermelon,” said a La Junta resident.

What it comes down to, wanting to spread the wealth.  “It’s just something that we provide from our community because we have an abundant share years ago and that’s what we like to share so when they come down they are able to enjoy all the other activities that are associated with giving away a free melon to those coming.”

The tradition was started in 1878 when Former Senator G.W. Swink had a good watermelon harvest. He then decided to share his abundance of watermelons with the people in the surrounding areas near Rocky Ford.