State officials give watermelon its own day

Photo Credit: USDA

COLUMBIA (WACH) -- South Carolina agriculture officials are giving a summertime treat its own day in the Palmetto State.

The South Carolina Watermelon Association and the South Carolina Department of Agriculture are hosting Watermelon Day on Saturday, July 9 from 11 am - 1 pm at the SC State Farmers Market in West Columbia.

Reigning SC Watermelon Queen, Holly Whatley, will be on serving slices of watermelon on a first-come, first-served basis to visitors in the north farmer's shed at the market.

"This is an opportunity to taste the sweetest part of a South Carolina summer. It TMs peak season for locally grown and nothing TMs sweeter, nothing TMs finer than South Carolina watermelons," said Agriculture Commissioner Hugh Weathers. "Watermelon is healthy snack and a great way to quench a thirst on a hot summer day."

The event is part of a series of summer events aimed at pushing the Certified SC program which promotes buying state-grown produce.

Watermelon, known as the smile fruit, puts more than a smile on your face during the summer heat, it puts green in people's pocket. Agriculture officials estimate the South Carolina watermelon industry generates millions of dollars each year.

"Growing watermelons is serious business in South Carolina," said Hamie Dicks, SC Watermelon Association Chairman. "Between 9,000 and 10,000 acres of watermelon are planted in South Carolina on average and, depending on the weather and other production factors, the value of production at the farm level is between $35 and $40 million. With the ripple affect, the value of the watermelon industry increases significantly, especially in the eight rural counties of the state where watermelon is grown."

State officials are marking the 4th Anniversary of the Certified SC program this year which now has more than 1,000 members strong.