s this serious? Yeah, it's serious. To me, I'm just glad to see the publicity.”
Based on the latest statistics released in 2005 by the state Agricultural, Food and Forestry Department, the watermelon was Oklahoma's 14th largest crop.
Watermelon farmers planted more than 6,500 acres of watermelon in 2005, netting more than $7 million in gross receipts.
Adding a little name recognition as the official state vegetable sure won't hurt.
"It will help spread the word about the watermelon festivals around the state and promote one of our best agricultural products,” said Rep. Joe Dorman, D-Rush Springs. "With the push for agritourism, this ties right in with promotion of these goods and encourages people to visit these festivals. When people visit, they spend money, which contributes to the local coffers. This will help each of the small towns.”
Rush Springs, a town of 1,300 people, is expecting 25,000 to 30,000 visitors for its Aug. 11 watermelon festival.
Valliant also has a watermelon festival, July 20-21, and the Watermelon Seed Spitting Contest will be in Pauls Valley on July 4.
Perhaps unimpressed with all the watermelon publicity are folks in Checotah, where the Okrafest is scheduled Sept. 8.