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Oklahoma heat wave hasn't dried up Rush Springs melon crop

Watermelons in the Rush Springs area were harvested before the recent string of days with triple-digit temperatures roasted Oklahoma, an area legislator said. The lawmaker brought melons to the state Capitol to promote the Rush Springs Watermelon Festival.
BY MICHAEL MCNUTT mmcnutt@opubco.com Published: August 3, 2012

The biggest watermelon was several years ago, with the prizewinner coming in at about 140 pounds, Rust said.

“This year they won't be that big,” she said.

Dorman, who is chairman this year, said the daylong festival is set for Aug. 11.

Most festivities begin at 9 a.m. at Jeff Davis Park after a 5k run that starts at 7:30 a.m.

A seed-spitting contest is at noon.

Brown will be coronated watermelon queen at 7 p.m.

Free watermelon slices will be served after 4 p.m.; before that, they cost $1 per slice.

The festival attracts about 30,000 people to Rush Springs, a city of about 1,500, Dorman said.

About 50,000 pounds of melon are served.

Rust said growing watermelons is hard work, and the number of growers has decreased in recent years.

She and her husband stopped growing melons after their children left home.

“It's not something you can harvest with equipment,” Rust said. “It takes a lot of labor.”

“There is no machine that can pick these,” Dorman said. “This is all hands-on, labor-intensive work. You have to have the workforce and you have to be able to pay those people to go out and work.”


TO LEARN MORE

For more information about the 68th Rush Springs Watermelon Festival, go to www.rushspringswatermelonfestival.com.

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