MELON QUEEN: Skipper tells all about watermelons

Published 7:11 pm Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Did you know the watermelon originated in the Kalahari Desert in Africa and that Egypt held the first recorded harvest 5,000 years ago? Did you know seedless watermelons were invited 50 years ago? Probably not.

But that information was served along with a slice of cold watermelon by Gulf Coast Watermelon Queen Taylor Skipper at Piggly Wiggly of Troy Monday afternoon.

Skipper “reigns” over the watermelon industry in Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. She travels those states as the ambassador and public relations representative for the watermelon industry. She informs the public on the healthy benefits of watermelons and encourages people to “eat more watermelon” and, in turn, support local farmers.

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Skipper was awarded the title of 2019 Gulf Coast Watermelon Queen in Biloxi, Mississippi and received a $5,000 scholarship, which the Troy University junior will use to achieve her career goal as an elementary school teacher.

“The Gulf Coast Watermelon Queen pageant is really about communication,” Skipper said. “There is an evening gown event but the main focus is on speech and the judges and on-stage interviews because the role of a Watermelon Queen is to talk with the public about the health benefits of watermelon –it has zero saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium — and how versatile it is. Seedless slices are great on sandwiches, its rind can be pickled and it makes great smoothies. Watermelon is available year-round and Jack O’Melons are fun replacements for pumpkins and are fun to eat.”

Skipper was totally prepared for the pageant. She laughingly said her watermelon-seed spitting expertise just might have been a deciding factor.

“My dad had practiced with me using sunflower seeds,” Skipper said. “He told me to stand up straight, then lean way back, put a foot forward and step into it and let it go! And, I did.”

Skipper said she is enjoying her reign as Gulf Coast Watermelon Queen. She will have opportunities to visit other watermelon-producing states including Florida, the Carolinas Illinois, Indiana and Texas.

She recently visited three watermelon farms and saw, first hand, how the melons are grown, how they are sorted and loaded for market.

“I’ve learned a lot about the watermelon and the watermelon industry and I’m sold on watermelons and their benefits,” she said. “I love going to different place like Piggly Wiggly Troy and meeting the people and talking with them. It seems like most everybody loves watermelon.”

Skipper will represent Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana in the National Watermelon Queen pageant at Walt Disney World in February.