By David Howell
WATER VALLEY – The prize-winning melon in this year’s Largest Melon Contest was plucked from the vine just two hours before the noon contest Saturday.
“It grew a pound-and-a-half from the night before,” the melon’s grower, Jerry Vaughn said about his entry in the Chamber sponsored contest, which is the highlight of the Annual Watermelon Carnival. Vaughn captured his second first-place win this year with the melon, which was officially entered by his son, Trey.
The last two days of growing were important, Vaughn’s 141.3 pound melon nudged past last year’s winner contest, Marty Bost, melon by just under four pounds. Bost’s melons won second and third place with 137.1 and 134.5 weights respectively.
Not that Bost has anything to be ashamed of.
“I was hoping to make it eight-out-of-ten,” Bost said. After Saturday’s weigh-in, Bost’s record is still strong. In the last decade he has won seven times.
Vaughn, a brick-layer by trade, entered the contest for the first time in 2004. That year his 107.7 pound entry earned him a fifth-place finish, but he was back the next year with a larger melon. He won his first first-place in 2005 with a 183.9 pound melon, the largest to ever be entered in the Largest Melon Contest during the carnival.
Bost bounced back in 2006, bringing a 215 pound melon – setting a state record and carnival record that has not been bested. Bost lives in Lafayette County and works as a truck patch farmer for a living, growing tomatoes, squash and other produce.
“It’s been real good to me,” Bost said, adding he has about 25,000 tomato plants growing on his farm.
Both Vaughn and Bost agreed this year was a tough melon-growing year.
“This year we had a cold, rainy May,” Bost said on contest day. “The vines weren’t growing.”
Vaughn is already planning for the coming year’s contest, and admitted he is looking to enter a bigger melon.
“Maybe next year we will bring it to the 200 pound mark,” Bost agreed as he left the carnival Saturday.