INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. - The watermelon industry crowned its 2017 National Watermelon Queen and passed the leadership baton of the National Watermelon Association at its 103rd annual conference Feb. 22-25 at snowy Lake Tahoe.

The conference is a reunion of sorts for the "watermelon family," as Bob Morrissey, executive director of the association, describes the group's members, and the event included plenty of fun along with association updates, education, recognitions and awards.

At the NWA annual awards banquet Feb. 25, the association crowned Madison Laney, the 2016 Alabama watermelon queen, as the 2017 National Watermelon Queen.

Ron Perry (left), chief financial officer of George Perry & Sons Inc., accepts the president's gavel from outgoing president Chandler Mack, vice president of operations of Mack Farms. This year, Mack will serve as chairman of the National Watermelon Association's board.


Laney, a senior at the University of Alabama majoring in human environmental studies with a concentration in fashion design, will serve as the industry's public relations representative, promoting watermelon at events organized by the National Watermelon Promotion Board.

Seven state watermelon queens competed for the honor in a contest including speeches, interviews and a beauty pageant, from which a panel of industry judges chose the national queen.


Also at the banquet, 2016 NWA president Chandler Mack, vice president of operations at Lake Wales, Fla.-based Mack Farms, assumed the role of board chairman and passed the gavel to incoming association president Ron Perry, chief financial officer for Manteca, Calif.-based George Perry & Sons Inc.

Ray Vincent of Laurel, Del.-based Vincent Farms Inc., is the association's first vice president.