MCDADE, Texas ---- The 65th McDade Watermelon Festival is underway. It kicked off with a dance Friday night, and picked up with a watermelon weigh-in Saturday morning. The winning watermelon weighed in at 138 pounds.
The parade followed the contest. KVUE got a wave from this year's parade marshals, Hilda and Richard Neidig. Hilda was the first queen of the festival back in 1948.
After they coronated this year's queen, free watermelon was served to all.
Janice Payne grows watermelons, and competes every year. Her father grew watermelons for the festival all his life. This year, Janice says the hot, dry weather made for difficult conditions.
"It's just in my blood, I've been doing watermelons for ever. Twice we've had twice the biggest watermelon; 128 pounds last year, but this year we didn't have any really big ones," said Payne.
Payne was also a McDade Watermelon Queen. And so was Janie Amescua. She explains how the tradition of this festival originated.
"It started in 1948 with a group of farmers entering in a contest with one of the national farming magazines, in order to earn money for the community. They were trying to replace some the furniture in the school that had burned," said Amescua.
They didn't win the contest, but they kept doing it year after year. It's still a big fundraiser for the community.
There's also a car show at the watermelon fest, with prizes in several categories.
Many people have been coming out since they were kids. Wayne Skubiata says, "I always thought it was the biggest thing that ever happened."
Now, he helps organize the event every year. In it's 65th year, it continues to bring joy to the community.