The National Watermelon Promotion Board has a full schedule of promotions already lined up.
For starters, the Orlando, Fla.-based board will again offer its watermelon display contest in partnership with the National Watermelon Association, which will run through July.
The purpose of the contest is to help draw attention to and excitement about the start of watermelon season.
“It’s a way for folks to be aware of where their watermelon comes from,” said Juliemar Rosado, marketing communications manager.
The grand-prize winner receives $1000 and a trip to the National Watermelon Convention. Regional prizes are also awarded.
This year, a “Star-spangled” category was introduced to coincide with the 200th anniversary of the “Star Spangled Banner.”
“We thought it worked great to support both things,” Rosado said.
More information about rules and entries are available in the retail section of www.watermelon.org.
The board also focuses on watermelon programs outside of the U.S.
“Canada and Japan are our biggest export focus areas,” said Rosado.
She said about 98% of the export market goes to Canada, but Japan’s interest in U.S. watermelons is growing all the time.
“I know the watermelon queen was recently invited to Japan for some in-store promotions and events,” she said.
In the future, Rosado said the board is looking to expand those efforts into the United Kingdom and other areas.
The board will run an ad in Times Square this year, promoting local watermelons from April to July, according to Rosado.
“We’re about to launch another CBS super screen promotion,” she said.
The board has utilized the New York City Jumbotron in previous seasons with good results.
“We’ll be promoting watermelon and retailers in that region to help boost sales there,” she said.
This year’s watermelon queens are also gearing up for watermelon season, according to Rosado.
Brandi Harrison, Florida’s 2013 watermelon queen, was crowned as the 2014 NWA Queen on Feb. 22 at the national convention.
Each state selected their new queens for 2014 and all underwent training at the end of March to be sure they were ready for upcoming promotions and appearances.
“These ladies are already familiar with watermelons and public appearances but we train them to make sure they are ready for any kind of promotion,” Rosado said.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the association’s watermelon queen program.