Earlier this month, a new National Watermelon Queen was crowned at the National Watermelon Association’s annual conference in Dallas, Texas. Of course, last year’s National Watermelon Queen, Maggie Bailey (you may remember my interview with her), was on hand to welcome the new queen, Miss Jessica Southard from Bronson, Florida.
To earn the title, Jessica competed against the nation’s eight regional watermelon queens in a winner-take-all watermelon eating contest. Just kidding, the queens were actually judged on their poise, personality and knowledge of watermelons. Maybe I’ll suggest adding a watermelon eating contest to the showdown next year. To help everyone get to know the new queen, I interviewed her, and here’s what she had to say:
HAS IT SUNK IN YET? YOU’RE REPRESENTING AN ENTIRE NATION OF WATERMELON LOVERS – NOT JUST A REGION. WE’RE TALKING ABOUT MILLIONS AND MILLIONS OF PEOPLE.
Absolutely not. However, the day after I was crowned, I headed strait home from Dallas. I’d decided to try and salvage my bouquet of roses that I’d received for winning. So, I took my seat on the plane with flowers galore in my lap. The passenger next to me asks, “What’s the occasion?” I slowly responded, “I am the National Watermelon Queen,” with quite a bit of pride in my voice. The mere thought of my accomplishment took my breath away for a moment. I was representing all the entire American watermelon industry! And this is just the beginning.
NOW THAT YOU’RE QUEEN, WHAT’S THE BIGGEST CHANGE YOU’D LIKE TO MAKE DURING YOUR REIGN?
As an Agricultural Communication major and the National Watermelon Queen, my focus is to strengthen the communication between the consumer and the farmer. It is essential to establish a positive association with agriculture in the minds and hearts of consumers, so that they will continue to support the livelihood of our farmers. Also, making sure that our industry receives accurate and positive media coverage is at the top of my agenda.
YOU’LL PROBABLY BE TRAVELING A LOT OVER THE NEXT YEAR. WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO THE MOST IN YOUR TRAVELS?
As a small town girl, I am looking forward to many cultural experiences. I am also very excited to see how other places market their watermelon and other agricultural commodities. Learning about the markets of other countries will only help improve our own.
DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS FOR THE GIRLS OUT THERE WHO WOULD LIKE TO BE A WATERMELON QUEEN SOMEDAY?
Absolutely! First of all, be passionate. Having passion will guide your success. Also, be informed. Learn as much as you can about the industry and get involved in it. Lastly, be yourself. Find your positive attributes and capitalize on them! Being a representative for an organization requires confidence and determination. Roadblocks are placed before us just to show how badly we want something. So get started!
THAT’S GOOD ADVICE! THANKS FOR TALKING WITH US TODAY, JESSICA, AND GOOD LUCK AS THE NEWEST NATIONAL WATERMELON QUEEN!