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If you noted the headline on the front page, the Watermelon Metropolis of the World, Amos Harvey revived the century-old brand for the 52nd Annual Watermelon Carnival. After years of wanting to share this history with the community, he decided to use the design for T-Shirts and other apparel to sell at the carnival. The logo was designed from a sticker that once was placed on every watermelon leaving the city.
The sticker dates back to the early 1930s when the city was known across the nation for the prized melons that were shipped out on the Illinois Central Railroad lines. During the watermelon heyday, the Water Valley Truck Grower’s Assn. would meet each year to discuss which variety of watermelon to plant, when the seeds would be put in the ground, estimate harvest times and make distribution deals with truck and train transporters.
Citing a deep dive into internet research and from talking to local historians, Harvey learned this agreement ensured that all watermelons leaving Water Valley were of the highest quality.
When rumors that farmers from some surrounding states were claiming their melons were Water Valley melons, the association came up with official labels to denote their melons were authentic watermelons, grown in Yalobusha County.
The association employed young boys to glue the labels on each melon as they were loaded on railroad cars. As the watermelon were stacked, the children would walk across the top of them gluing the labels one by one. Another layer of melons would be added to the rail car or trailer, and they would walk back across them applying the labels. Only small children were hired for this job, as bigger kids may bust a melon. The association dissolved during the late 1930s, but some of the labels remained.
Harvey explained he first encountered the watermelon labels in 2004. Becky Tatum had opened a frame shop on Main Street where the North Mississippi Herald office is currently located and framed them to sell to customers. Harvey was lucky enough to acquire a few of them and always wanted to share this history with the public.
This year, with the help of graphic designer Susan Lee, the design was reworked a little to allow it to transfer to T-shirts and other products. Harvey secured a booth during the carnival selling shirts, tea towels, aprons, tote bags and postcards featuring the design.
Although the label notes the Watermelon Metropolis has the “World’s Choicest,” I tweaked it a little. It sounds better to say “The Watermelon Metropolis of the World.”
I think this needs to become part of Water Valley’s branding for the carnivals in coming years!