At Headland’s Farmer’s Market, the watermelon seed spitting competition, which seems like a light-hearted contest, was anything but child’s play this year.
The competition has been held annually at the market for the last eight years and according to County Extension Coordinator for Henry County Jimmy Jones, the competition helps retain customers during the “July lull”.
The lull happens just after Independence Day, when community members and those nearby take vacations to escape the heat.
“More than the lull though, (the competition) helps connect people to farmers and food they can trust,” Jones said. “They know they’re getting food that has been taken care of here, and folks come from all around for the competition. When they show up they see the vendors and almost always take something home with them.”
The produce is grown locally; the furthest location the market will source from is a farm roughly 35 miles away, “and that's just because we can get the best peaches around from a farm out there.”
This year, the watermelon eating competition and seed spitting competition brought people to the square from far and wide.
Both Libbie Bell and Aries Burger tied for the kid’s watermelon eating competition.
However, the kids had to step aside to make way for the adult’s seed spitting contest.
The contest winner is decided by the longest seed launch. The rules are: the seed has to come from your mouth, it has to land on the plastic that is laid out for the competition, and anyone that steps on the plastic while spitting their seed is disqualified.
Alabama Watermelon Queen Sarah Levine was the official judge of the events at the market, and said that the competition is a great way to learn more about Alabama’s watermelon agricultural sector.
“It’s really great to be part of this day and I am beyond excited to be here,” said Levine.
During the competition's first year, Mayor Ray Marler spit a record-setting seed that flew 26.5 feet. However his off-season practice failed him this summer.
Community member Mike Burger stole the show this year, with a seed that was launched 23 feet even.
“It’s great, winning this competition is everything I ever dreamed of,” Burger said as he held up his trophy.