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In honor of my birthday, a friend sent me this picture.  Now that’s a watermelon cake!

birthday cake

And my roommate made this one for me! It was delicious…and vegan!

IMG_2553

Three days after the Plains festival promotion it was time for me to go on the trip that I had been preparing for since the summer.  On Tuesday I left for the United Fresh Produce Association’s Congressional Visit.  Mrs. Wanda and I were in Washington D.C. with all the other watermelon queens and coordinators September 9th through the 11th and had such a great time.

Before serving watermelon on the Hill.

Before serving watermelon on the Hill.

Wednesday night all the queens and Chef Joseph Poon, watermelon carver extraordinaire, served Congressmen and women and their staff lots of juicy watermelon slices along with other produce companies who had delicious foods to sample.

On Thursday we spent the morning at meetings discussing our main goals to inform our Congressmen and women of, then that afternoon we marched to Capitol Hill for lobbying.  We were split up into 27 groups with people from our home state to visit our senators and representatives offices.  The Texas group visited four different offices, including John Cornyn’s and Joe Barton’s, where we presented our goals for the produce industry.  Even

Visiting with Rep. Ciro Rodriguez.

Visiting with Rep. Ciro Rodriguez.

though I wasn’t quite as prepared to speak on all the topics discussed, I had such a great time taking part in the lobbying.  It was so interesting to see how it all worked and hopefully as whole we were able to make an impression on Congress.

On Friday there were a few more meetings to attend as well as a Capitol tour.  Although this wasn’t my first trip to D.C., I had such a great time getting to visit the city again and this time with lots of good company.  I had so much fun seeing all the girls again and meeting new people involved in the produce industry.  Another perk was meeting Mr. Paul Begala, CNN analyst and University of Texas alumnus, who told me to come work for CNN one day (fingers crossed).

Taking a bus tour around D.C.

Taking a bus tour around D.C.

Overall this trip was such a wonderful experience and I learned a lot about how our government works.  I would like to give special thanks the National Watermelon Association for allowing me to be a part of it all.

To see more pictures from my visit to Washington D.C., click here.

With just enough time to move into my new apartment and start school I was off again on September 4th and 5th to Lubbock and Plains, Texas for the Yoakum County Watermelon Round-Up.

Getting ready for my interview with KCBD.

Getting ready for my interview with KCBD.

On Friday I went in to the KCBD Channel 11 studios in Lubbock for an interview during their noon newscast.  The interview was over before I knew it, but it was fun to have that experience since broadcast news is what I hope to do for my career one day.

On Saturday we traveled about an hour outside of Lubbock to Plains for their annual watermelon festival.  Here we were joined by the familiar faces of Teretha and Guy Jones, Mr. DeRoy and Mrs. Gerry Anderson, and Connie and Mackie McWhirter.  They are all such a pleasure to be around and I was so glad to see all of them there.

The "Queen's Choice" car.

The "Queen's Choice" car.

The Plains festival was a lot of fun and featured lots of watermelon contests, music, food and delicious red and yellow watermelon slices.  I also was able to take part in the classic car contest by helping hand out awards, one being the “Queen’s Choice Car,” which took me a long time to decide on.  At the festival I handed out lots of coloring books, recipe cards and some autographed photos.  I also met some really nice people, including a 95 year old Plains resident who was recently inducted into the Cowgirl Hall of Fame. Before we headed back to Lubbock, we first loaded up the back of Mrs. Wanda’s escalade with watermelons from Anderson produce, which were donated to the Millsap ISD.

With Mr. DeRoy & Mrs. Gerry Anderson in Plains.

With Mr. DeRoy & Mrs. Gerry Anderson in Plains.

For attending the festival, I received a Yoakum County Centennial Cookbook and a beautiful hand-crafted watermelon necklace, which made wonderful additions to all the memories I received as well.  Special thanks to the community of Plains, McWhirter Farms, Anderson Produce, Borders Melons, Texhoma Produce, and Javi Farms for inviting me to such a wonderful watermelon festival.

Click here to see all the photos from the watermelon round-up.

The first three weekends in August kept me very busy with Kroger grocery store promotions in Houston, Dallas, and Rockwall.  July 31st through August 2nd I was at Kroger on Buffalo Speedway in Houston for a “grand re-opening.”  Then on August 7th through the 9th I was in Houston again at the Kroger on Buffalo Speedway and one on West Gray.  Finally, on August 14th through the 16th I traveled to Dallas for a Kroger promotion on Mockingbird Lane and then in Rockwall.

Bananas & watermelons go together perfectly.

Bananas & watermelons go together perfectly.

Mrs. Wanda and I put some miles on our cars that month!  However, I had a great time in each store and was able to work with some really awesome demo-ladies from the New Concepts in Marketing company.  With lots of watermelons in the stores, customers enjoyed samples, recipe cards and of course coloring books for the kids.  Special thanks to again to NWPB, to Mrs. Carolyn, Mrs. Ruth, Mrs. Joy, Mrs. Rose and Mrs. Mabel in Houston and Mrs. Geneva in Dallas who created wonderful demos and made my visits to Kroger so much fun!

To see more photos from all those Kroger promotions, click here.

With one of the cutest Market Street shoppers!

With one of the cutest Market Street shoppers!

Fourth of July weekend I went to six different Market Street grocery stores in the Dallas area on behalf of the National Watermelon Promotion Board. Mrs. Wanda and I spent three very busy, but very fun days traveling to two different stores each day. We went to stores in Colleyville and Coppell on Friday, Plano and McKinney on Saturday, then Frisco and Allen on Sunday…and we only got lost once!

This was my first time to go to a Market Street grocery store and I was interested to see what each store was like. All the stores were very nice inside and had lovely produce sections, which is where I spend most of my time during in-store promotions.

A couple of the stores we visited had some fun events planned for the holiday weekend. The store in Coppell had a watermelon eating contest that I got to judge. Both kids and adults were excited to participate in the contest and get a little messy, ok really messy while eating a huge wedge of watermelon without using their hands. The store in Allen featured various contests for the kids sponsored by Radio Disney and a well-known celebrity, Elsie the Borden Cow!

Elsie was at Market Street too!

Elsie was at Market Street too!

I had so much fun that weekend handing out recipe cards, coloring books and helping people pick out watermelons for their Fourth of July celebrations. It was also pretty cool to see three different fireworks displays from our hotel window. Special thanks to the National Watermelon Promotion Board for organizing the promotions.

Click here to see more photos!

The weekend of June 27th I made a solo trip to my hometown, with 6 dozen cupcakes in tow, for the 3rd annual

These kids love watermelon!

These kids love watermelon!

Grapeland Watermelon Festival.  Aaron had asked me to pick up what he claims to be the best cupcakes he’s ever eaten (from Sugar Mama’s in Austin) to keep at his family’s office.  However, I had no idea I would be picking up six dozen.  I was happy to do him the favor, though.

The Pennington’s grow watermelons back home and I’ve known them all my life, so they invited me to attend.  The festival featured live music, a BBQ cook off, a seed spitting competition and of course, delicious Pennington watermelons.  It was so nice to be home again and to see a lot of familiar faces.

The weather was hot but the watermelon was cold and lots of people came by for large slices of watermelon.  We cut some of the biggest watermelons I’ve ever seen, so big a machete was needed (though I did not attempt it).  A lot of people also participated in the seed spitting contest, where the farthest seed spit was 28 feet, just beating my new personal record of 27 feet.

And this is how you eat it!

And this is how you eat it!

I had a relaxing weekend with my family and was happy to be a part of the festival.  Special thanks to Aaron Pennington who invited me back home for a fun festival and even let me have a cupcake!

To see photos from the festival, click here.

My first festival of the year was the annual Snook Fest in the small town of Snook located right outside of College Station.  I was so excited that Mrs. Wanda was able to attend and also Maggie, the National Watermelon Queen, and her coordinator, Mrs. Eleanor.  The Wiggins family’s watermelon farms are based in Snook and they have always been major contributors to the festival, so they invited Maggie and me to attend.

At dinner with the Wiggins.

At dinner with the Wiggins.

When I arrived in College Station on Friday I met up with Mrs. Wanda, Maggie and Mrs. Eleanor and we drove to Snook to meet Mr. James Wiggins at his office.  We got to chat with everyone in the office, picked up our festival t-shirts and then rounded up everyone for dinner.  Now when I say everyone, I mean everyone. I fondly refer to them as the “Wiggins crew.”  This includes Mr. James & Mrs. Jeannine, Jody & Carrie, Paul & Beth, Clint, Jesse, Mickey and anyone else who claims relation to them.  Mr. James was so kind to treat us to some delicious seafood and entertaining conversation at Fish Daddy’s.

Saturday was the day of Snook Fest which began with a parade.  Maggie and I rode in a beautifully restored classic car to lead the parade.  Following us were more cars, horses, fire trucks, and beautifully decorated watermelon floats with plenty of cute kids on board.  We then arrived at the festival grounds where there was live music, vendors, BBQ cook-off participants and plenty of ice cold watermelon.  Throughout the day Maggie and I handed out slices of watermelon, explored the fair grounds, did the chicken dance

Maggie and I handing out juicy watermelon.

Maggie and I handing out juicy watermelon.

and helped showcase delicious baked goods for the cake auction.  We also helped with the watermelon eating contest, seed-spitting contest and a watermelon crawl contest.  Kids had to push a watermelon on the ground across the finish line using only their heads, which worked out better than I had expected.

I had a lot of fun at the festival and even more fun afterwards!  That evening we were invited to have a BBQ dinner at Paul and Beth’s house with the “Wiggins crew.”  It was such a pleasure to have them welcome us into their home and treat us just like family.  I had such a wonderful time getting to know everyone a little better and talking with them about almost every topic imaginable.  The Wiggins’ are a great group of people and being a die-hard Longhorn I don’t like to admit this, but after that weekend I was actually sad to leave the College Station area.

Maggie and I with Mr. James & Mrs. Jeannine.

Maggie and I with Mr. James & Mrs. Jeannine.

I would like to say a very special thank you to Mr. James for inviting me to attend Snook Fest and to all of the Wiggins’ who opened their homes and arms to me and gave me so much of their support.

To see photos from Snook Fest, click here and to see the news story, click here.