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Archive for April, 2009

The most common question I get once I tell people, or often when my roommate Courtney tells people that I’m the Texas Watermelon Queen is, “How did you get into that?”  Although I’ve only served as queen for a couple months now, I’ve had plenty of opportunities to practice my reply.  However, this is the extended version.

I grew up in a small East Texas town (the kind where everybody knows everybody) and my family is good friends with the Pennington family who have been producing watermelons for almost 70 years now.  The Penningtons are members of the Texas Watermelon Association and in the past they have introduced a few other girls from my hometown to the TWA Queen program.  Of course, thanks to living in a tiny town, I knew the girls who served as Texas Watermelon Queen and became very interested in the program as well.  So when Mrs. LaWanda Pennington approached me a year ago about competing for the title, I immediately told her I wanted to.

United Fresh Convention in Las Vegas, May '08

United Fresh Convention in Las Vegas, May '08

However, that year I received first runner-up and though that’s not bad at all, I was a little disappointed.  Luckily for me, I was able to fill in a couple times for the current queen and I absolutely loved it.  I traveled once to Las Vegas for the United Fresh Convention, where I met the 2008 National Watermelon Queen, Brittanie Faircloth and 2008 Illiana Watermelon Queen, Maggie Bailey (who is now the 2009 National Watermelon Queen).  I had an amazing time with the girls, handing out slices of watermelon and meeting people from all over the world.  In fact, we all learned how to say watermelon in Japanese from two men who visited our booth.  Then I traveled to San Antonio for an in-store promotion at the grand opening of an H.E.B.  For three days I had a great time handing out recipe cards, coloring books and stickers for the kids and convincing people (which really wasn’t hard to do at all) to sample new ways of eating watermelon, like fire and ice salsa.

Though I loved serving as Watermelon Queen the two times I did, I debated whether or not I wanted to compete again because of a broadcast class I will have to take in the summer.  At the last minute I decided that I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to possibly serve as the Texas Watermelon Queen, so I mailed in my application…a day before the deadline.

The weekend of January 17th, my family and I traveled to South Padre Island for the Texas Watermelon Association convention.  On Friday, all three queen contestants met with the pageant coordinator, the visiting watermelon queens from other states, and the 2008 Texas Watermelon Queen for a “Queens Tea.”  Here, we went over the different portions of the competition, got to know a little bit about each other and heard from the former queen, Marie Fletcher, about her year of service.  Friday evening was the official start of the convention for the queen contestants with (you’re going to love this) a seed spitting competition and auction.  Even though I did win the seed spitting competition for my division (18′), how far you can spit does not factor into the queen competition.

On Saturday morning the queen contest began with the speech competition.  Contestants were required to prepare in advance and memorize a 2-3 minute speech about why we want to be the Texas Watermelon Queen.  Contestants were then asked to respond to an impromptu question.  After the speech competition came the promotion-wear segment.  One at a time girls modeled on stage an outfit of their choosing that they would wear as Texas Watermelon Queen to an in-store promotion, a festival, or a congressional visit.  Next, all the queen contestants had lunch with the judges, which allows them to get to know all of our personalities better.  After lunch comes one of the most important parts of the competition, the personal interview with the judges.  Contestants met one at a time with all the judges and answered a series of questions, mostly relating to why you want to become queen and how you would handle different situations as queen.  Then we all got to relax a little before the evening wear competition and banquet.  Before everyone had dinner at the banquet, the contestants modeled evening gowns, in which we were judged on our poise and grace (hey, walking in a long gown and heels gracefully takes some talent).  After that, the competition was officially over!  All we had to do then was wait until the end of the banquet for the results.

As I stood on stage with the other contestants waiting to hear the judges’ decision, I was confident but nervous that I might face disappointment again.  However, when my name was called as the 2009 Texas Watermelon Queen I couldn’t have been happier.  No one could have wiped that smile off my face, which was a good thing because I was then bombarded with flashes from cameras.  As I received hugs and congratulations from everyone, I felt like I was newest member being introduced into the TWA family.

With former Texas Watermelon Queens

With former Texas Watermelon Queens

Though I knew a little bit about the production side of the industry through my relationship with the Pennington family, with each trip I am learning more and more about how watermelons travel from the fields to the grocery stores.  I am also learning more about the nutritional value of watermelons and their versatility (they’re not just for picnics anymore!).

I am so blessed and grateful to have been given the opportunity to represent such an amazing and hardworking group of people.  It brings me great pride to represent Texas and all those involved in the watermelon industry here.  I hope that throughout my year of service I can represent every member in a way that makes them proud.

My coordinator/travel buddy, Mrs. Wanda

My coordinator/travel buddy, Mrs. Wanda

I would like to say thank you to my judges, Beth Wiggins, Richard De Los Santos, and Brittanie Faircloth, for choosing me to represent the Texas Watermelon Association and giving me this opportunity.  I want to thank Temple-Inland for the scholarship and everyone else who donated items for use during my year of service (that luggage is getting a lot of use already).  I also want to say thanks to my family and extended family, the Penningtons, for always supporting me in my endeavors and showing unconditional love.  Most importantly, I want to thank our Lord for blessing my life with such amazing people and experiences.  I hope that in everything I do my service to you will always make you proud.

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