Bring your cowboy boots — and a poncho — because the National Watermelon Association has a convention like none other planned for the kickoff of its 100th anniversary.
The Lakeland, Fla.-based organization’s annual convention, Feb. 20-24 in San Antonio, features a little bit of Texas kitsch and a lot of fun, said Bob Morrissey, executive director. From a “Blue Jeans and Diamonds” party featuring line dancing coaches and a mechanical bull and a private performance by the band Little Texas to an appearance by watermelon-smashing comedian Gallagher, Morrissey said the event is going to be a “blast.”
“We’re only going to turn 100 one time so we wanted to make sure to we do this right,” he said. “We have watermelon growers, shippers and suppliers from all over the country, stepping up and doing things we have never done before.”
Also, as part of the organizations Centennial Anniversary, the Watermelon Archives will be on display Feb. 20-22.
“We’ve never had them on display before,” Morrissey said.
The association has photos dating back to the late 1800s and editions of the Vineline magazine dating back to the 1940s.
In addition to the annual watermelon queen competition, seed spitting contest and auction of unique watermelon memorabilia, the organization also plans some valuable business sessions.
Craig Reggelbrugge of the Agriculture Coalition for Immigration Reform plans to address attendees on the latest in guest worker and immigration reform.
“There are very positive signs that congress will actually be getting something done this year,” Morrissey said. “Craig has been working more on immigration and guest worker reform longer than most people I know.”
The association also plans a mysterious guest appearance Feb. 21.
“It’s a situation beyond our control and we cannot divulge this person’s name, but everyone in that ballroom, unless they’re less than 3 years old, will recognize this person’s face and voice,” Morrissey said. “They will be very happy with what he has to say.”
This year’s convention is the start of the association’s centennial anniversary. Morrissey said the celebration will last through 2013, culminating in a birthday party at next year’s convention in Savannah, Ga., Feb. 19-23.
For more information on this year’s convention, visit www.nationalwatermelonassociation.com.