Commercial growers to gardeners

Commercial growers to gardeners, calling all watermelon producers. It’s almost time to enter your finest melons in the Big Melon Contest at the Panhandle Watermelon Festival. The festival and the contest have been summer-time staples in the Central Panhandle for decades. Don’t miss your opportunity to showcase the delicious product of your hard work and have a chance to win prize money.

To make the contest fun for growers of all types of watermelons, contest classes will be broken out by varieties. The heaviest melon in the class wins. Winners of each class will receive $50, and first runner-up $25. In addition to the classes, there will be a $300 grand prize paid for the overall heaviest melon in the contest and $250 for the first runner-up.

There is no cost to enter a melon in the contest. However, melons entered in the contest are donated to the festival and will be sold via auction. Proceeds of the auction will go to help off-set the costs of next year’s festival. All contest melons will be on display during the festival and their variety, weight, and grower will be announced during the auction.

The 2023 Panhandle Watermelon Festival will be Friday June 23rd and Saturday June 24th in Chipley, FL. The Friday night concert festivities will be held at Jim Trawick Park and Saturday’s events (including the melon auction) will be at the Washington County Ag Center. The auction will begin at 12 noon on Saturday.

Melons being entered in the contest will need to be delivered to the Washington County Ag Center prior to the festival. Melons will be received and weighed-in at the Ag Center Tuesday 6/20 and Wednesday 6/21 between 8am and 4pm or Thursday 6/22 between 5pm and 7pm central time. If you have melons that you would like to enter in the contest but are unable to deliver during the specified times, contact Mark Mauldin prior to 6/20 to make arrangements. Pick-up may be possible, to the extent practical, provided arrangements are made in advance.

The Washington County Ag Center is located at 1424 Jackson Ave. Chipley, FL 32428.

If you have any questions regarding the contest, contact Mark Mauldin at the UF/IFAS Extension, Washington County Office (850-638-6180 or