Watermelon Fest Beat the Heat

The Wichita Falls Farmers Market is known for offering people a great place to shop for locally grown produce.

Earlier this year, the group Wichita Falls Downtown Proud took over operations of the market from the City with one goal in mind, make the farmers market a prime shopping location for all sorts of locally produced items.

On Saturday, Downtown Proud sponsored the First Annual Watermelon Fest, a day devoted to bringing more attention to the area.

As part of the festivities, people pigged out during a pie eating contest.

United States Marine Corporal Jordan Martinez was one of the winners, "I feel pretty good," he said, pie still dripping from his face, "I just got out of the Marine Corps recently, and just moved home two days ago. I heard about this, and I said 'I'm going to enter it, and hopefully I'll win'."

Martinez wasn't the only winner Saturday.

"This has been a really good day, compared to some of the other shows I've had," said local artist Roger Whitaker, "Definitely. Definitely good."

Whitaker, and his girlfriend Talya Burgher, took advantage of increased foot traffic to grow some support of their own.

"I've always loved these downtown festivals," said Talya, "I think it's really good to bring culture into Wichita Falls."

And that's exactly what organizers said is the goal of events like Watermelon Fest; to grow a new following for the farmers market, and make it a destination location for shopping.

"Of course we're not Austin," said Cynthia Laney, Executive Director of Downtown Proud, "but we see the farmers markets in these bigger communities that are able to do this type of thing, and that's the direction that we really want to go for Wichita Falls."

Laney said as word continues to spread about the farmers market and the different festivals held there, more vendors are getting involved as well.

Laney said the more people get involved, the easier it will be to turn events like Watermelon Fest, into future Texoma traditions.

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