Vining to host 3 on 3 tournament to benefit Jacob Quam Foundation

Photo by Chad Koenen
Free watermelon will be served as part of the annual Watermelon Day celebration in Vining on Saturday.

By Chad Koenen


Anyone who doubts the power of watermelon in bringing people together has clearly never seen the town of Vining on the third Saturday of August. With a love of watermelon that will be difficult to match in central Minnesota, the 51st annual Watermelon Day celebration will be held on Saturday in Vining—a town of just 80 people in the heart of Otter Tail County.

Often called “the biggest small town celebration,” Watermelon Day will feature everything from watermelon clothing to face paint, watermelon-inspired events and even as much free watermelon as a person can handle throughout the day.

Dating back to 1972, the annual Watermelon Day celebration has become a staple for end of summer celebrations throughout Otter Tail County. 

The annual Watermelon Day celebration began 51 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 event will kick off with the Vining Lutheran Church pancake and sausage breakfast beginning at 7:30 a.m., before the Run for the Melon 5k/10k will begin at 8 a.m. Registration for the Run for the Melon will begin at 6:30 a.m. 

One of the highlights of the annual Watermelon Day celebration is its expansive craft fair. With everything from homemade food to handmade items and more, the arts and crafts fair lines both sides of the streets for several blocks from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

A new event will highlight the Watermelon Day celebration when the Jacob Quam 3 on 3 basketball tournament gets underway at 9 a.m. The tournament will feature 18 teams in a single elimination tournament with the proceeds from the tournament benefiting the Jacob Quam foundation/scholarship. In addition to the basketball tournament, 10 of Jacob Quam’s friends and family members will compete in a pie eating contest prior to the start of the championship game. 

The annual car show at BigFoot Gas, Grocery and Deli will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., while live music with Nathan’s Old Time Band will hit the main stage at 10 a.m. Throughout the day there will be live music, which will also feature Memories with Steve Worner from 1-4 p.m. and a street dance with Whiskey Business at night. 

Beginning at 11 a.m. will be kite building at the community center, a petting zoo near the community center and the Vining History Center will open to the public. Free watermelon will once again be given away at 11 a.m., until it is gone, near the fire hall in Vining. 

Other events throughout the afternoon will be the medallion hunt, children’s games at 1:30 p.m. and Clueless the Balloon Twister from 3-6 p.m. 

Watermelon Day will come to a close with the grand day parade rolling through downtown Vining beginning at 7 p.m. and the street dance featuring Whiskey Business following the parade.