The Mar-Del Watermelon Association has a busy summer ahead. From regional fairs to grocery store demos to visiting the local race track, the association plans to promote Maryland and Delaware watermelon throughout its three-month season.

“We’re excited to get started for the season,” said Dawn Collins, promotions coordinator for the Allen, Md.-based association. “It’s exciting to give people that first taste of summer. Not only is watermelon a fun produce item but also a very healthy one.”

This year, Collins said the season will start a little later than normal because of early cooler temperatures. The Maryland-Delaware watermelon season is expected to run from mid-July through September.

There will be many regional spots to get tastes of local watermelon. The association will be handing out slices to fans at the Delmar race track, as well as attending several fairs:

u the Delaware State Fair near the end of July;

u the Rehoboth boardwalk and beach area of Delaware; and

u the 30th-annual Richmond, Va., Carytown Watermelon Festival in August.

Additionally, the association will join the Wilmington, Del., minor league baseball team, the Blue Rocks, on “Meet the Farmer Night” to hand out slices and talk with attendees and local growers.

This year’s 2013 Mar-Del Watermelon Queen is expected to attend all events. The National Watermelon Queen also arrives in the area near the end of July to assist with promotions.

Collins said the association plans to visit several stores in the Maryland-Delaware region to hand out literature, have watermelon-eating contests and provide recipe demos.

“We want people to know they can do more with watermelon than just (serve) slices,” Collins said. “We show them ways to incorporate it into recipes. It’s a fun produce item to market and see the smile on people’s faces.”

The association has a busy fall planned as well.

It will attend the Produce Marketing Association Fresh Summit Convention and Expo in October in New Orleans.

In Washington, D.C., also in October, Collins said

the association plans to attend two events: the United Fresh — Washington Public Policy Conference, and it will partner with the National Watermelon Promotion Board at the Marine Corps Marathon.