Lifestyle

Luling Watermelon Thump: How Far Can You Spit a Watermelon Seed?

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There are many reasons tourists visit the small town of Luling, Texas, but what the community is most known for is its yearly Watermelon Thump. The event is a 4-day ordeal that brings over 30,000 attendees to the small town of 5,000. When it comes to watermelons, Texas is one of the world’s leading producers, but Luling takes it to a whole other level. They have watermelon-themed murals, summertime stands, and contests, and their water tower is painted like a gigantic watermelon.

The Watermelon Thump festival started in 1954 when the Luling Elementary school principal Herman Allen suggested a social celebration to recognize the growers of the watermelon market. They started watermelon contests which grew in fame around Texas drawing visitors from out of town. These contests consisted of who could grow the biggest melons, eat the most melons, and lastly who could spit a watermelon seed the farthest.

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Photo: @irchena via Twenty20

The festival even brought the Guinness World Record to Luling in 1989, when John Wilkinson set the longest seed-spitting record at 65 feet, 4 inches. Wilkinson was beaten in the same year by Luling resident Lee Wheelis, who spit a seed the distance of 68 feet, 9 1/8 inches. In 2019, the biggest melon ever grown in the festival’s history, known as the Black Diamond champion, weighed in at 141 pounds.

The festival grew in popularity over the years when it started sending the champion melons to celebrities such as Johnny Carson, President Ronald Reagan, and the hit show “Nashville Now.” The spitting champions of the festival also made a guest appearance on the Regis and Kathy Lee Show, Howie Mandell’s show, and the Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

The Thump is not only known for its contests, but also for its Watermelon Thump parade, the Watermelon Queen, live entertainment, a carnival, food booths, arts and craft exhibits and so much more. The festival is held every year in the last week of June. However, due to the pandemic, the Thump was canceled for 2020. It will not be rescheduled for 2020, but they do intend to resume in 2021 if health authorities permit.