The Washington Times - July 26, 2009, 12:41AM

Watermelon Day! What? You don’t celebrate Watermelon Day?

All across the heartland small -town celebrations abound throughout the summer. In a neighboring town they have Jesse James Days. Adel, Iowa holds its Sweet Corn Festival in August, but in my hometown, we have Watermelon Day!

The third Saturday in July is almost upon us, and the community has been preparing all year for this event. Class reunions are held—my husband’s class will hold its twenty-fifth while I had my twentieth last year—where does the time go?

The scene is the same predictable one across the country in all small -towns, but each town has its own set of traditions that rarely vary; it’s what everyone looks forward to and cherishes every year. 

The parade will be on with each entry vying for the best representation of this year’s theme-Back in Time to 1959.  The all-alumni reunion at the community center will be open to all on Friday night. Churches will be serving maid rites, hamburgers, cookies, brownies—you name it throughout the day.  The volleyball coach, yours truly, will run the annual volleyball tournament as usual for how many years now??? A three- on- three basketball tourney is also held every year, and for the more sedentary a cribbage tournament and bingo in the park are available as well.

The little ones will compete in the pedal tractor pull and will try with all their might! You can peruse the classic cars that line up down Main Street at the classic car show. The local firefighters will have their annual water fight—and when the volleyball sand pit gets too hot, they give our feet some relief with the water tanker and hose. The pool will be open to all swimmers. The library has a fund raising book sale. You can watch a horse show at the Triple R Arena.

And everyone loves the blindfolded golf cart races!

The golf course holds the annual tournament at the reservoir that is also the site of the annual fishing tournament. There is a dance in the park Saturday night for the adults and also one at our teen center for the kids.

Where does the watermelon come in you ask? At three o’clock every year, not before, the watermelon is served—an all you can eat bonanza of the chilled, juicy fruit.

How is our celebration different from other small-town fiestas? Well, maybe only the fruit or vegetable that is the object of our adoration, but that isn’t the point.
  And, I can probably tell you what will go on next year right now. And that’s the way we like it, but that’s not important either.

Those who have moved on to suburban or urban living come home at this time, too.  And those who choose to build our lives here make it possible for said globe-trotters to have something to come home to. 
Those of us who stay often endure some disparaging comments from those who go on to presumably bigger and better things. Recently, a friend of my husband’s, who shall remain nameless, stopped by while on a weekend visit. Over the course of ten minutes, he showed his own ignorance while attempting to highlight ours.  He began explaining a computer program to me in which you could talk face to face with someone on your computer.

Imagine that.

“You mean Skype, right?”
“Yes,” he replied. “Wow, you can get that here?”  (Here we go again.)
“ Uh, yeah.” I further supplied,” It’s a program anyone can download and use on the INTERNET.”
Was he trying to make us feel unenlightened? Probably not. I hope he just assumed that due to the rural nature of our community we would not have access to such communication apparatus.

However, we all know what assuming does…
We also have satellite television, laptops, Blackberry’s, iPods, iPhones, and the Internet— even on our phones!  A lot us of even have top o’ the line wireless, high- speed Internet!

Golly, we even have that thar new-fangled indoor plumbin’!

Whether it’s corn or watermelon that your hometown is worshipping, go home and celebrate your small town’s existence and appreciate the folks who made it all possible. If you’re not from a small town—adopt one. And while you are home, we will treat you like you’ve never left and that nothing much has changed-even though “it” and we have.

But please while you’re there remember—the country mice happen to know a thing or two!