NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Meet Savannah Christensen, the 2018 National Watermelon Queen.
Christensen, a 21-year-old nursing student at the University of South Florida, and reigning Florida Watermelon Queen, will promote watermelons for the next year, after being named national queen at the National Watermelon Association’s 104th annual convention, Feb. 21-24.
The outgoing queen, Madison Laney, crowned Christensen Feb. 24 at NWA’s award dinner. Laney participated in more than 160 watermelon promotion events in 2017-18 in 29 states and four Canadian provinces, and represented the association at many produce industry events including the Canadian Produce Marketing Association in Toronto, United Fresh events in Chicago and Washington, D.C., Viva Fresh in Austin, Texas and the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas in Nogales, Ariz.
Laney said it was the experience of a lifetime and gave all the glory to God.
Paige Severino, Alabama Watermelon Queen, was named first runner up; Blakely Johnson, South Carolina Watermelon Queen, was second runner up; and Anna Beth Potter, Georgia queen was Miss Jubilee.
Also at the award dinner, NWA inducted three watermelon legends into its Hall of Fame.
Bruce Price was credited with drafting a proposal in 1983 to create the National Watermelon Promotion Board in order to reverse a decline in per capita watermelon consumption. He was a seed grower and represented Texas on the NWA board for many years.
“It’s been an honor to be associated with you folks,” he said at the award dinner. “You’re the salt of the earth.”
Two other legends were honored posthumously.
Arnold Mack, a watermelon grower from Florida, was a long-time leader and champion of the NWA and especially the annual auction at the convention. He died in the spring of 2016.
Matt Dietz worked for R.H. Dietz Co. in Chicago and was credited with developing the first automatic bulk watermelon loading and grading machine. He later started his own produce company, Matt Dietz Co. in Laredo, Texas, where he grew and shipped watermelons, onions, honeydews and cantaloupes. He died in 2008.