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Archive for June, 2009

Right after my trip to Kansas City (literally 2 days later), I spent the weekend in Fort Lauderdale for the National Watermelon Promotion Board Queens’ Media Training Seminar.  My “chaperone” this time was Holley Brown Murphy, the ’95 Texas Watermelon Queen and ’96 National Watermelon Queen.  I was especially excited for this trip because I would finally get to meet all the other state watermelon queens.  That’s right, there’s more of us.  Texas, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Illiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Mar-Del make eight and the National queen makes nine.  Of course, they were all awesome girls and I had so much fun working together with them.

I arrived in Fort Lauderdale the afternoon of April 17th and Holley met me at the airport.  We quickly made our way to the hotel where the queen’s training seminar was held and changed for the first meeting.  Here we all met one another and some of the hardworking folks of NWPB.  Stephanie Simek, Gordon Hunt and Leslie Coleman, presented us with the key messages we need to pass on to consumers and the ideals that we represent as watermelon queens.  After our meeting we all went to dinner at Champp’s Restaurant where we ate some delicious chocolate cake and got to know one another better.

Everyone after dinner at Champp's.

Everyone after dinner at Champp's.

The next day, we went to the Mr. Food studios where Maggie, Mrs. Eleanor and Leslie demonstrated proper ways to cut

With Mr. Food!

With Mr. Food!

a watermelon and how to make the fire and ice salsa and breakfast a-go-go recipes.  We also took a tour of the studio and were able to meet Art Ginsburg, a.k.a. Mr. Food.  He was very nice and I was glad he took time out of his Saturday to come visit with us.  Afterwards, we went back to the hotel for more meetings and had the pleasure of being in the presence of another celebrity.  Former Miss America Nichole Johnson attended our meeting and gave presentations on being a good representative for our associations and dealing with unusual situations.

That evening we had some free time to check out the city, so of course we went to the beach!  Maggie, Summers and I took some beach side photos and met one of the locals, a parrot named Tabu Keeler.  Afterwards, Holley and I joined Summers and her coordinator for dinner at a fabulous Italian restaurant where the garlic bread was amazing!  We had a great time at dinner and later spent some time down by the pool that evening just talking and relaxing.

Tabu Keeler: parrot & Ft. Lauderdale resident.

Tabu Keeler: parrot & Ft. Lauderdale resident.

I was sad to leave Florida and even sadder about getting up really early to catch a plane.  However, my trip to Fort Lauderdale will be one that I will never forget.  I learned so much more about the association and the product that I help represent and it makes me very grateful to be in this position.

Special thanks to Holley, who was an absolute joy to travel with!  We were never without laughter and I had such a great time with her.  THANKS HOLLEY!

Click here to see more photos and here for a video from Ft. Lauderdale!

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On the afternoon of April 14th I hopped on a plane for a quick trip (22 hours to be exact) to Kansas City, Missouri.  I was asked to attend the Associated Wholesale Grocers exposition to help represent Borders Melon Company, Inc.

I met up with my two “chaperones” for this trip, Ranell and Gigi, at the hotel around 8 p.m., ordered room service and went to bed because we all had to wake up really early (before 6!) the next day.  The morning came quickly, too.

Ranell, Gigi and I were awake, dressed and on the road at 7 a.m. heading for the Kansas City International Expo Center.  Once inside, we went to our vendor booth, laid out brochures and began cutting into the watermelons.  Borders Melon Company, Inc. had some of their delicious seedless watermelons shipped up to showcase to the grocery store retailers who were attending the expo.

Gigi and I at the Borders Melon vendor booth.

At the Borders Melon vendor booth.

The three of us spent the day introducing people to the company and convincing them to try a wedge of sweet and juicy watermelon.  We even conducted our own taste test.  A little boy came by eating a lollipop and we asked his parents if he could try some watermelon.  After eating the watermelon, we then asked the boy which tasted better, the lollipop or the watermelon.  The little boy, without hesitation, smiled and pointed to the watermelon.  Yay for watermelons!

We all had a busy day at the expo but were able to take a few breaks to sample different products from the other vendors.  We kept making ourselves full from the cheese quesadillas offered at one booth.  We made up for it though by having a slice of watermelon for dessert. 🙂

Displaying a delicious Borders watermelon.

Displaying a delicious Borders watermelon.

Once the expo was over, we packed away the things from our booth, loaded them into the car and headed to airport.  Sadly, I wasn’t able to explore the city with Ranell and Gigi because I had to be back for school the next day.  So at approximately 6 p.m. I was back on a plane and heading back to Austin.

Despite spending such a short amount of time in Kansas City, I had a lot of fun with Ranell and Gigi and I learned quite a bit, too.  At the expo I saw first-hand one of the steps it takes to get a product from the fields to the grocery store shelves.  It was a great learning experience and I can’t wait to take another trip like it.  Hopefully next time it will last longer than a day!

Click here for more photos!

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I just got back from the annual Snook Fest this weekend and I have new photos!  Click here for pictures from my first festival this year.  Also, ABC 40 of Bryan/College Station came out to the fest and here’s a newscast one of their reporters created.  Enjoy!

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On March 6th I traveled to Evansville, Indiana for the 20th Annual Illiana Watermelon Association convention.  The convention was held at the Casino Aztar Hotel, which is located right on the Ohio River.  Attending the convention was my first official trip as Texas Watermelon Queen and I was so excited to be able to visit again with Maggie, the 2008 Illiana Queen and newly crowned National Watermelon Queen, and her coordinator, Mrs. Beth.

My coordinator, Mrs. Wanda, and I arrived in Evansville Friday evening, quickly checked-in to the hotel and changed clothes for the convention’s dinner.  Illiana’s convention this year had a tropical theme and what’s a dinner in the tropics without a luau-style roasted pig?  The dinner was delicious and I had a wonderful evening chatting with members of Illiana’s association, watching the queen contestants compete in the promotions attire category and of course, participating in the seed spitting contest.

The next day was packed with plenty of activities for me to attend, but was nothing compared to the what the queen contestants had in front of them.  They had a long day of competition starting with the speech category, then judges’ interview, then promotional letter-writing, then on-camera interview, then the auction and finally the evening-wear category.  I was relieved that while attending this convention, I wasn’t the one competing for anything.

At the convention’s morning meeting, Maggie formally introduced me and I thanked everyone for inviting me to attend.  I then listened to Bob Morrissey, Executive Director of the National Watermelon Association, discuss some general food safety issues and preventative measures that farmers and packers must take to ensure that every consumer goes home with a watermelon of the highest quality.  I learned a lot from Bob’s presentation and was thankful to have attended the meeting.

Mrs. Wanda and I had so much fun at the auction!

Mrs. Wanda and I had so much fun at the auction!

After Mrs. Wanda and I had lunch, I put on my really comfortable shoes because I was going to help Maggie and the other queen contestants display items at the auction.  I have never in my life seen so many watermelon themed items and Illiana’s auction was much longer than the Texas convention’s auction.  Fortunately, a few of those items were donated to me by some really nice people, like Mrs. Wanda, who gave me a watermelon fleece blanket.

Once the auction was over, Mrs. Wanda and I had only a  short amount of time to get ready for the convention’s banquet.  We had another delicious dinner and watched as the queen contestants modeled their evening-wear.  After dinner we listened to Maggie talk about her experiences as the IWA Queen and watched a slide-show with photos from all her travels.  We also heard speeches from the wonderful officers of the Illiana Watermelon Association.

Finally, it was time for the new IWA Queen to be crowned!  Again, I was thankful to have been an observer rather than a contestant this time, but I was just as nervous for the girls as I was for myself at the Texas convention.  Out of eight lovely queen contestants, this year’s title of Illiana Watermelon Queen was awarded to Johnna Thompson.

With new IWA Queen Johnna.

With the newly crowned IWA Queen Johnna.

I had such a wonderful time in Evansville and was sad to leave because watermelon conventions are really fun!  Everyone was so nice and treated me like I was family.  I would like to give a special thanks to Bob & Pam Clayton, Craig Mathis, the Nowaskies and the members of Midwest Farms who were all so kind to donate auction items to me.  Also, thanks to everyone in the IWA who put on a really fun convention and allowed me to have such a great experience.

Click here so see my Flickr photos from the convention.

Congratulations Johnna!

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