Chinchilla Melon fest mania rising

Melon fest time nearing for Chinchilla


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Slippery fun: The Chinchilla Melon Festival holds the distinction of being the only place you can go watermelon skiing anywhere in the world.

Slippery fun: The Chinchilla Melon Festival holds the distinction of being the only place you can go watermelon skiing anywhere in the world.

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Close to 15,000 people from across the nation as well as from beyond our fair shores are expected to create quite a spectacular mess when the 14th biennial Chinchilla Melon Festival takes place on February 14-17.

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A gathering of close to 15,000 people from across the nation as well as from beyond our fair shores are expected to create quite a spectacular mess when the 14th biennial Chinchilla Melon Festival takes place from Thursday, February 14 to Sunday February 17, 2019.

Founding committee member Darryl O’Leary said the festival, which will be celebrating its 25th birthday in 2019, has only grown in popularity over the years.

“I think the ongoing appeal of the festival lies in the fact that it’s community-based, fun and quirky; for instance it’s the only place you can go watermelon skiing anywhere in the world,” Mr O’Leary said.

“In addition to the renowned melon skiing event, we’ll have a host of other events for guests to get involved with, including a pip spitting competition, melon chariot races, and a melon farm tour. The best part is it’s all free,” he said.

Ever popular: The festival will be celebrating its 25th birthday this year and has only grown in popularity over that span of time.

Ever popular: The festival will be celebrating its 25th birthday this year and has only grown in popularity over that span of time.

Mr O’Leary said the big melon weigh-in being held on the afternoon of Friday, February 15 at 3pm is a big attraction.

“We don’t know who will turn up with the biggest melon, it’s a mystery, it’s very exciting.  

“This year we’ve shifted the weigh-in to the school oval as the crowd for the big moment was too large and it was getting too dangerous  to hold it in the main street.”

He said on Friday evening visitors can choose to go to three main events being held including the Friday Festival Feast on the school oval, the beach party at the Club Hotel, or the rodeo at the showgrounds.

Mr O’Leary said they’ll be kicking-off the Saturday events slate with what the committee believes will be the    largest street parade in regional Australia this year.

Get your melon on: Festival founding committee member Darryl O’Leary said the ongoing appeal of the festival lies in the fact that it’s community-based, fun and quirky.

Get your melon on: Festival founding committee member Darryl O’Leary said the ongoing appeal of the festival lies in the fact that it’s community-based, fun and quirky.

“But the games held in the main arena are still our biggest drawcard. Along with the watermelon skiing, the melon bungee event is very popular with guests, and in some aspects replicates the work involved at a melon farm, in a wild way.”

He said to cap-off the festival a laser light display will be held in combination with a free concert featuring headline act Mental As Anything.

Mr O’Leary said all the non-consumable melons used in the events are pollinators for seedless varieties which can’t be sold, so wastage isn’t an issue.

“We used close to 22 tons of melons last year with around 15 tons of that used in the games, while the rest was eaten or sold.”

He said the festival originated by chance when a Chinchilla-based melon grower came across a similar event while visiting the US.

“We were going through another dry spell back then, so when we heard about the concept the entire local community got on board, and away it went.”

As well as providing a top time for all, founding Mr O’Leary said the event provides great economic benefits for the Western Downs region.

“We encourage all community organisation in Chinchilla and surrounding districts to get involved, as the festival provides a great fundraising opportunity.

“From what I was told close to $3m went out of cash registers in town last year, and all up the event bought close to $7m into the districts economy.

“It’s a boon for everybody in the community, which is essentially why we run it.”

For festival information and enquiries please visit www.melonfest.com.au or call 0488 737 060.

The story Chinchilla Melon fest mania rising first appeared on Queensland Country Life.

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