State News

Watermelons on the Highway

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Gloria Richardson is the first woman president. That is to say, the first woman president of the North Carolina Watermelon Association, which has been around for the last 25 years. And she has a vision. She sees lots of cars going up and down the highways of North Carolina with watermelon license plates. But to realize that vision, she needs your help.

I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, "The Waterwhozwha?" Watermelons don't exactly pop into my head when I think about North Carolina agriculture, either. But actually North Carolina produces over $6 million dollars' worth of watermelon a year -- over 7,000 acres of it. That ranks NC at about 8th in the nation (it fluctuates between 7th and 9th, Gloria Richardson told me) with over 11 million pounds in production.

But what does all this have to do with watermelon license plates? It happened this way: Gloria Richardson was elected to a two-year term in the NCWA in March 2005. In June she began her quest to get a watermelon license plate. The North Carolina General Assembly approved the plate in July but specified that the NCWA must gather 300 signatures pledging to order the plate.

That's where you come in and that's why Gloria Richardson and the North Carolina Watermelon Association are spending their first year at the Fair. She's gathered over 200 signatures and hopes to have the remaining 100 or so before the end of the Fair.

If you drop by and fill out a license plate application and $10, the NCWA will hold on to it until they get 300 signatures, then send the money and applications to the DMV. The DMV will then mail the plates directly to the applicants.

Don't want a plate? Drop by the booth anyway -- you'll be able to pick up a brochure with a lot of recipes including Watermelon Mousse, Caribbean Watermelon Salsa, and Quick & Easy Watermelon Pie. And Monday at 3pm the Watermelon Queen will be in the booth to say hello.