What if I told you that my little home town of 700 residents can swell to 3000 people in one day? This may be an odd thing to say, or even think about, but it is true. Every year for Labor Day Weekend, the City of Clyde puts on the Watermelon Festival. The Watermelon Festival is a four-day event. A few of the activities include a parade, a golf cart scavenger hunt, a demolition derby, fireworks, a homemade ice cream social, watermelon feed, and a contest to see who can grow the largest watermelon. Obviously, the festivities are hosted in celebration of Labor Day. But you may be wondering, “Why Watermelon Festival?” The answer to this lies in the history of the town. When Clyde was being settled, farmers were looking for a crop that could be profitable in the area. The soil in the area is sandy and at the time the most efficient way of shipping was by train. So, the farmers grew watermelon. They found that the vines grew well in the soil and the melons themselves could be easily stacked in train cars. The town had found a profitable venue that would allow it to grow and form the foundation that would allow it to not only survive, but thrive over many years. Today, agriculture is still a large part of the town’s economy, but it has changed to beef and grain production. Despite this change, the impacts of that original idea to grow watermelon are still honored. The Watermelon Festival represents and celebrates the pride and community service that keeps this little town alive and well today. Growing watermelon and access to the railroad laid a foundation for the town.
What about your FFA Chapter? Many chapters have various “foundations” that shape the chapter’s activities and culture today. Some might have a strong history in various CDE’s and LDE’s. Others find their niche in proficiency or national chapter awards. Some may just now be building their foundation for the future. I know my chapter struggled with laying a concrete foundation for many years. While this presents a challenge, this challenge comes with opportunity! And, let’s face it, all chapters – those which are very strong and accomplished and those who are trying to follow in their footsteps – must always work hard to improve. And how exciting for all the new chapters that are just getting started in our state this year. Their first members are building the very first footings for their foundation. We can all play a part in forming or adding to our chapter’s foundation. We can lead the charge by starting a new event in our chapter or we can lead by example by being an active member who gives 100% effort in all they do. Even when our time as a member has passed, we can still have an impact through the alumni chapter. What will be your chapter’s Watermelon Festival?