Food

Gwen Fowler

SOUTH CAROLINA INSIDER

 

Watermelon season is here

Posted 6/21/2010 2:56:00 PM

Watermelons are getting more plentiful at South Carolina roadside stands and produce markets.

The state’s crop got off to an early start this year, said Brad Boozer, marketing specialist for the S.C. Watermelon Board. Usually the first watermelons ripen about June 15, but some from the southern part of the state were on the market by June 7 this year.

While watermelons can be grown anywhere in the state, most commercial growing is done from the lower part of the state -- Bamberg, Barnwell, Colleton, Allendale, Hampton and Aiken counties – and in the region around Chesterfield County in the upstate.

Not only are watermelons one of the most refreshing treats of summer, they are low in calories, high in Vitamins A, B6, and C, and a great source of Potassium. For a list of the state’s watermelon growers, go to www.certifiedscgrown.com.

Two South Carolina festivals pay tribute to watermelons, and one of them, the Hampton County Watermelon Festival, is going on now in Hampton. This is the 68th year of the festival.

Here are some of the activities planned for the last weekend of the festival, June 25-27.

On Friday and Saturday, there will be arts and crafts exhibits and food concessions. A carnival will be held from 5-11 p.m. Friday and all day Saturday. A street dance begins at 9 p.m. Friday.

A parade at 10 a.m. Saturday travels from Varnville to Hampton. And it wouldn’t be a watermelon festival without an eating contest, which is at 2 p.m., followed by free watermelon slices. For a full schedule, visit www.melonfest.org.

The Pageland Watermelon Festival will be held July 16-17. Pageland, which calls itself the Watermelon Capital of the World, is in Chesterfield County. Activities include watermelon eating contests, watermelon seed spitting contest, a parade, car and motorcycle shows, live entertainment, and carnival rides. For information, visit www.pagelandwatermelonfestival.com.