Luling: Sixty-One Years of Thumpin’

Watermelons have been associated with  Luling since the 1950s, when truck farming began to take off in the area.

Watermelons have been associated with Luling since the 1950s, when truck farming began to take off in the area. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Watermelons have been associated with Luling since the 1950s, when truck farming began to take off in the area. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In 1953, Luling residents held the first Watermelon Thump, a festival featuring live music and a seed spitting competition (ready to break the 70-foot distance barrier any day now). There aren’t any points for manners in these events, but the judges do impose a penalty if a seed goes too far out of bounds toward spectators.

Special children’s contests and a team-spitting contest also take place.

Spectators need to stay alert during the seed spitting contests, especially the under-age-eight category, lest they get splattered with flying watermelon.

This popular event was introduced in 1971. The watermelon seed spit record of 68 feet 9 1/8 inches was set in 1989 by Lee Wheelis and is recorded in the Guiness Book of Records.

Local farmers roll out their super-sized black diamond watermelons at the Championship Melon auction where 50 pounders are not uncommon—winners have been known to plump up to over 80 pounds. They’re still trying to grow that 100-pound watermelon!

Other highlights of the four-day celebration include the Watermelon Thump Queen’s coronation, parade with floats promoting other Texas festivals, carnival, children’s entertainment, street dances, and car show. Live music, a beer garden, arts and crafts booths, and food booths remain on tap all weekend.

The earliest local grown watermelons in Texas begin to ripen after the first week in June, so The Thump is a harvest festival of sorts, marking the availability of ripe watermelons.

But why would you thump a watermelon?

To find out if a melon is ripe enough to eat, many people like to use the thump test. That, of course, is how the festival got its name.

Basically, you test the ripeness of a melon by flicking the husk with your index finger. If you get a somewhat hollow sound from the melon, it’s ripe.

Entering Luling from Interstate 10, you’ll notice the world’s largest watermelon rising up 154 feet from a melon patch. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Entering Luling from Interstate 10, you’ll notice the world’s largest watermelon rising up 154 feet from a melon patch. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

True thump experts say that a perfectly ripe watermelon will ‘thump’ and the thump will be about a b -flat note. Although a lot of people rely on that method, if you’re like me, I can’t tell a b-flat from a hole in the ground.

Look the watermelon over, choose a firm, symmetrical one that is free of bruises, cuts, and dents. Lift it up and turn it over. The underside of the watermelon should have a creamy, yellow spot—called the ground spot—from where it sat on the ground and ripened in the hot Texas sun.

The annual Luling Watermelon Thump is always held the last Thursday to Saturday in June.

Make plans now to attend the 61st Annual Watermelon Thump, June 26-29, 2014.

What is a watermelon?

Watermelon is in the same family as cucumbers, squash, and pumpkins.

Watermelon is 92 percent water and 8 percent sugar. It is rich in lypocene, an antioxidant that gives it its characteristic red color. It’s fat free and contains Vitamin A, C, and a lot of other good things to eat!

Watermelons have higher lycopene content than tomatoes! During the past several years there has been considerable media attention on tomatoes because they contain Lycopene. Lycopene has antioxidant properties and has been claimed to promote a healthy heart and to reduce the risk of cancer. Watermelons contain more lycopene than tomatoes.

Watermelon Fruit or Vegetable?

No matter which way you slice it, a watermelon is a vegetable—and it’s a fruit! It is both!

How awesome is that! You can eat watermelon and get a serving of your daily supply of vegetables!

In North America, most of us use watermelon as a fruit. We slice it, dice it, and scoop it into balls. We put it in fruit salad, we eat it as dessert, and we make fruity drinks out of it.

The annual Luling Watermelon Thump is always held the last Thursday to Saturday in June.

The annual Luling Watermelon Thump is always held the last Thursday to Saturday in June.

Other regions of the world often treat watermelon like a vegetable. The entire watermelon is edible even the rind. In the orient all parts of the watermelon are stir-fried, stewed, and pickled. In Russia, pickled watermelon rind is fairly common.

Travel safe and enjoy your RV experiences. Remember, getting there is half the fun!

Please Note: This is Part 3 of a 4-Part article

Part 1: Luling: Barbecue Central

Part 2: Luling: Texas Black Gold

Part 4: Luling: Texas-style Promised Land

Texas Spoken Friendly

Worth Pondering…

More words of wisdom from an Oklahoma Cowboy

Will Rogers was quite the cowboy, with all the wisdom of simple, honest folk. His words still ring with common sense today…
Will Rogers, who died in a 1935 plane crash with his best friend, Wylie Post, was probably the greatest political sage the country ever has known.
Enjoy the following:
7. The quickest way to double your money is to fold it and put it back into your pocket.
8. There are three kinds of men: The ones that learn by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence and find out for themselves.
9. Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment.

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