By Coulter Fussell
“Many wagon-loads of enormous water-melons were brought to market every day, and I was sure to see groups of men, women, and children seated on the pavement round the spot where they were sold, sucking in prodigious quantities of this water fruit. Their manner of devouring them is extremely unpleasant; the huge fruit is cut into half a dozen sections, of about a foot long, and then, dripping as it is with water, applied to the mouth, from either side of which pour copious streams of the fluid, while, ever and anon, a mouthful of the hard black seeds are shot out in all directions, to the great annoyance of all within reach.”
Frances Trollope, ‘Domestic Manners of the Americans’, 1832
“When one has tasted watermelon, he knows what the angels eat. It was not a Southern watermelon that Eve took: we know it because she repented.” — Mark Twain, 1894.
These are but a few of the words that ran through my head on Friday when I took my first bite of a stellar Baxter Jones watermelon that Alexe sold me out of a BTC grocery cart.
And “This is the funnest day of my entire life!” is what ran though my seven year-old son’s head at 10 a.m. the next morning because he said it out loud on our walk from the C.W. White Inc. parking lot to the east side of the Watermelon Carnival. We hadn’t even crossed Central Street yet and, in my son’s eyes, that day had already beat out every other day in the his life as Funnest Day. It beat out all the trips overseas, all the times he’s stood backstage with his dad at concerts looking out on tens of thousands of screaming fans while bands played, all the plane rides and boat rides and faraway places…all put to shame. Standing right there in front of Rascal’s and The Dollar General.
My other son, the four year-old, while not as pleasant about his excitement as my seven year-old, also had a good time as was exemplified when he stomped and cried his way to the “Wawamewon Festa-bul.” When we got there he promptly won a plastic trumpet which he blew like a lunatic at the expense of every ear in City Park and was eventually caught drinking directly from the sno-cone syrup spigot by a rugged carnival ride worker. My son came up from the syrup dispenser with an electric blue smile, a sticky rainbow oozing down the front of his shirt and a bee buzzing around his mouth. These are the things that make him happy and Watermelon Carnival delivered.
I personally enjoyed the Watermelon 3k. They said it was a record turnout for the race…it was up, like, a hundred and something people form last year. Way to be fit, Water Valley! If it’s going to continue to grow then, hey, let’s get some age categories going because we have some elderly people such as myself that don’t stand a chance against the 15 year old track star from Oxford High, but might stand a chance against other elderly people such as yourself.
That trolley that stopped downtown every 30 minutes was great. While I’ve always liked the festival I always thought it kinda left Main Street high and dry. For the three years I’ve had my business I’ve wished some of the crowd would find their way downtown and wondered why we couldn’t have the carnival closer to the business district. Folks would trickle in here and there, most asking which way to the Carnival.
Well, not this year! No trickling! It was a full-on deluge. The BTC was slammed, The Velvet Glove and Doris’s had people in and out all day. I don’t even know what happened down by Caboose Boutique or up around the bend past Turnage’s because there was never a point at which I could leave my gallery. Finally, the crowd really, truly found us.
So here’s a public thanks to my kids’ joy, the Chamber’s efforts, the personal resolution of Main Street businesses to get the word out about our wonderful little watermelon-lovin’ town, and that amazing, well-timed watermelon daiquiri that Rachael Cole made me. Great weekend!