Each February, the National Watermelon Association holds its annual conference. Among the many items on the event’s five-day agenda is the crowning of the new National Watermelon Queen. This year’s queen is Katelyn Kelley from Branford, FL.
Not long after her coronation, Katelyn took some time out of her busy schedule for the following interview.
THANKS FOR AGREEING TO ANSWER A FEW QUESTIONS. HOW HAS YOUR LIFE CHANGED NOW THAT YOU’RE THE NATIONAL WATERMELON QUEEN?
I have been very busy and on the go since the day I was crowned. I have also become a seasoned flyer and expert packer. Otherwise, I am still the same person I was before being crowed National Watermelon Queen. I tried numerous times to convince my two brothers I needed to be treated like a queen…you know, given the “royal treatment.” As you can imagine I really did not get very far in the attempt.
EVERY WATERMELON QUEEN HAS SOME SORT OF BACKGROUND TIE TO WATERMELON. WHAT’S YOURS?
I grew up on a fourth generation family farm. Though most years we did not grow watermelon, I still have a very strong tie to agriculture. I grew up admiring the care and dedication my father and grandfather put into their crops. Now I am truly blessed to represent an industry that has the same dedication and passion for agriculture.
WHAT PART OF BEING WATERMELON QUEEN ARE YOU MOST LOOKING FORWARD TO?
I am most looking forward to the opportunity to represent the wonderful farmers, shippers, brokers, seed salesmen, box salesmen and other industry professionals that make up the watermelon industry. They are an incredible group of people who truly care about their product. They work tirelessly to insure watermelon remain healthy, safe and of high quality for consumers. I’m also looking forward to the chance to represent the industry in Washington D.C and lobby on behalf of the industry. The produce industry as a whole is facing new challenges and I hope to make the watermelon voice heard in Washington.
NOW THAT YOU’RE QUEEN, WHAT’S THE BIGGEST CHANGE YOU’D LIKE TO MAKE DURING YOUR REIGN?
I don’t think there are any specific changes I would like to make but rather stay very involved in current agricultural issues facing the watermelon industry. I want to be available to attend promotional events as well as being a spokesperson for the industry through media promotions.
DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS FOR THE GIRLS OUT THERE WHO WOULD LIKE TO BE A WATERMELON QUEEN SOMEDAY?
Always stay true to yourself and never forget your roots. It is an extreme honor to be called the 2012 National Watermelon Queen, but I am just an ordinary person whose been extremely blessed with an incredible “once in a lifetime opportunity.” I suppose National Watermelon Queen is actually a job, but for me it has been an amazing journey with an amazing group of people, and I have much left to accomplish before February 2013.