The Rush Springs community celebrates its many years of successful watermelon production with the annual Watermelon Festival, an event that has taken place for more than 70 years.
While the community bills itself as the Watermelon Capital of the World, the entire state actually has a strong connection to the crop. Oklahoma ranks No. 12 in national production of watermelon.
The majority of Oklahoma’s watermelon crops are planted in the central and south-central regions, so it makes sense that Rush Springs – situated about 60 miles southwest of centrally located Oklahoma City – would be an ideal place for watermelon production.
“If you think of Rush Springs as a body, then the watermelon is the heart,” says Mike Zurline, Watermelon Festival chairman.
Some 50,000 pounds of watermelon are consumed at the annual festival, which draws approximately 20,000 visitors each year. Slices are priced at just $1 until 4 p.m. – a bargain, according to Zurline – and they are given away for free for the rest of the day. With free admission and parking, the festival also includes a 5K run, seed-spitting contest, prize watermelon auction, live music, food vendors, an arts and crafts show, and the crowning of the watermelon queen.
While the official Watermelon Festival takes place on the second Saturday of August, events held in the days leading up to it include an amusement carnival, rodeo and a parade, complete with watermelon-themed floats.