Free watermelon, parade to be held on Saturday

Photo by Chad Koenen
Free watermelon will once again be given away beginning at 11 a.m. on Saturday. The free treat is just one of dozens of events scheduled for Saturday in Vining. 

By Chad Koenen


The Watermelon Day celebration has been around for so long that in just a few short years it could start collecting Social Security. 

Dating back to 1972, the annual celebration has become a staple for end of summer celebrations throughout Otter Tail County. That tradition continues on Saturday as the tiny town of Vining celebrates the 50th annual Watermelon Day.

The annual celebration began 50 years ago when several businessmen took a load of farm gates made in the area to Oklahoma. On the return trips the businessmen would load their trucks with fresh watermelon. When they returned home the men and other local businessmen wanted to show their appreciation to the community and invited the public to come out and eat all of the free watermelon they could. 

The group chose the third Saturday in August for the free watermelon giveaway, a tradition that continues today.

This year’s Watermelon Day celebration will get underway at 7:30 a.m. on Saturday with the annual Vining Lutheran Church pancake and sausage breakfast, before the Run for the Melon 5k/10k gets underway at 8 a.m.

One of the largest arts and crafts displays in the region will begin at 9 a.m. and go through 5:30 p.m. on side streets of Vining. The annual arts and crafts fair stretches the length of Vining and features everything from handmade items to one-of-a-kind collectibles.

Watermelon Day will kick into high gear at 11 a.m. when the Prairie Fire Children’s Theatre will present “Sleeping Beauty” at the Vining Community Center will drop its current. A show will also be held on Friday night at Henning School. Friday’s show will begin at 7 p.m. at the school.

The petting zoo near the Vining Community Center will be held from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., while the bounce houses will be held a short walk from the petting zoo.

A car show will be held at BigFoot Gas, Grocery and Deli at 11 a.m. and the Vining History Center will be open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

The Vining Fire Department will be serving lunch at 11 a.m. and bingo begins at 12 p.m. 

Saturday also features a bean bag tournament and medallion hunt, which both begin at 1 p.m. Children’s games near the Vining Community Center will get underway at 1:30 p.m. and feature everything from races to fun games.

Of course any Watermelon Day would not be complete without a slice, or four, of free watermelon. Local volunteers will be serving free watermelon near the fire hall beginning at 11 a.m. Watermelon will be served while supplies last. 

The day will come to a close with a parade at 7 p.m. and a street dance featuring the Runestone Rebellion after the parade.