On the second Saturday of each August, the popular Rush Springs Watermelon Festival takes place in Rush Springs, Oklahoma. Between 20,000 and 30,000 visitors attend the festival and consume more than 50,000 pounds of watermelon annually. The first such festival took place in 1940, and subsequent festivals have been held continuously each year since 1948.
In Rush Springs, local residents assert the town's rights to the title of "Watermelon Capital." Rush Springs sits just off Oklahoma state Highway 81, midway between Duncan and Chickasha in southwest Oklahoma. The festival takes place in Jeff Davis Park, located just east of the intersection of Highways 81 and 17.
The festival includes various watermelon-themed exhibits, a classic car display, shows, contests, a carnival, an arts and crafts fair featuring more than 100 vendors and, of course, free watermelon. The Lion's club hosts a prize melon auction; visitors can participate in a watermelon seed-spitting contest.
Festival celebrations occur over the course of three days. Ancillary events include a rodeo, parade and the election of the Watermelon Festival Queen; the rodeo takes place on Thursday and Friday evenings, and the parade happens at 5 p.m. on Friday. As of 2009, the event also includes a 5k run and 1 mile fun walk. The run starts at 7:30 on Saturday morning from Jeff Davis Park; runners navigate through a course that includes the hills of Rush Springs.
In 2007, the Oklahoma Legislature recognized the importance of the watermelon. The state representative from Rush Springs asked the legislature to declare the watermelon as the official vegetable of Oklahoma; this proposed legislation promoted a discussion regarding the watermelon's classification as a fruit or a vegetable. Notwithstanding this debate, the proposal was approved.
- Mac Vincent: Watermelon Festival 2011
- Watermelon Times: List of Festivals
- Google Maps: Rush Springs Oklahoma
- Find A Spring: Jeff Davis Park, Rush Springs, OK
- "News OK"; Rush Springs watermelons evoke pride; Bryan Painter; July 26, 2009
- "Associated Press"; Okla. Declares Watermelon State Veggie; April 17, 2007
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