Less Traveled

Page Ivey



Don’t take a knife to a gunfight and other things I learned eating watermelon in Pageland

Posted 7/30/2013 4:19:00 PM

Let’s just say I didn’t win. I love watermelon, it is true, and I am no petite person. But eating more than one slender sliver of watermelon in the allotted one minute was downright impossible for me.

Plus, I was laughing so hard it was hard to swallow.

Later, I was smiling too broadly to spit my seed very far.

So, no, I did not win either the watermelon-eating or seed-spitting contest at the 2013 Pageland Watermelon Festival. But I did have fun.

The festival is nearly 60 years old and is as comfortable as an old shoe. There was no snarling about traffic. Several downtown streets were closed down, but we were able to park within a two-block walk from the festivities. The car show was very low-key, with car owners leaving their cups full of votes (tickets that fans had purchased) unattended while they enjoyed the festivities. It didn’t really seem to matter who won.

One side street was filled with diehard cornhole teams willing to brave the heat of mid-afternoon summer asphalt for glory. Vendors lined several streets with arts, crafts and food – everything from boiled peanuts to homemade pizza cooked in a brick oven onsite.

Most folks could point out last year’s contest winners and wannabes. That’s me -- a wannabe. The winner in my, um, age bracket, ate nearly half a melon in one minute.

Nice fella, but I don’t know where he put it. He was focused, not laughing like me and the nice young pregnant lady next to me, who looked like she had already swallowed a melon. That’s why we were laughing. I’m pretty sure some 9-year-olds ate more than I did.

The seed-spitting winner, well, he was over 6 feet tall, so I am assuming it was his lofty perch that gave him the edge and allowed the seed to fly 39 feet. I wasn’t even spitting distance from that. Mine was more like 8 feet, more or less. Heck, the winning teenager, a lovely young lady and a senior at Lancaster High School, did better at 14 feet. Where do these kids learn to spit like that?

I didn’t even try for the costume contest, though I might have stood a chance there, being shaped somewhat like a watermelon. It was great fun just to see the adults and kids who did dress like everyone’s favorite fruit. They were all winners.

I picked up a few pointers about how to properly cut a melon slice for an eating contest (you want them to be roughly the same size) and how not to simply mush my melon instead of eating it (that will get you disqualified).

So if you are planning on attending the Pageland Watermelon Festival 2014, practice your spitting, bring your appetite and try not to laugh too much if you want to win.