- Town gears up for 13th Melon Festival
Spain has La Tomatino, Amsterdam has Orange Madness, and Chinchilla has the Melon Festival, a four-day fruit-powered celebration that will see 15,000 revellers squash, stomp, spit, ski and wear around 26 tonnes of Queensland's finest watermelon from February 16 to 19 this year.
Dubbed Australia's 'Melon Capital' the Chinchilla Melon Festival puts the little town of 5,400 residents, some 300 kilometres due west of Brisbane and on the brink of the Queensland Outback, on the world map.
Chinchilla Melon Festival committee member, Tania Thornton, said the festival is a world-best because of the events not seen anywhere else around the globe.
“Kicking off the weird and wonderful is the 'Melon Dash for Cash' where participants carry a watermelon in a 100 metre race to the finish line,” said Tania.
“But the highlight is probably the Melon Skiing competition. It's crazy fun. Participants step into these huge watermelons - weighing around 7 kilograms for kids and 11 kilograms for adults, which are gouged out like giant Dutch clogs - and use them as skis. They then grab a rope and hang on for dear life as they are towed by people down a slippery 50 metre tarp of bumpy red melon slosh.”
Keeping the good times rolling there's also Melon Bungy, Melon Spitting, Melon Feasting, Melon Ironman and Ironwoman, and Melon Tug-o-war, a chariot race made out of melon crates.
Another much anticipated activity are the fashions of the festival, where characters sport their best green and red melon attire to vie for public attention. In recent years, combat helmets, resembling the Spangenhelm or a Barbut from the Middle Ages, have popped up, and Tania thinks the accessory is catching on.
“The trend will continue in 2017, with lots more quirky helmets made fresh from our local fruit and I suspect we'll see the whole family join in the melon couture.”
The Chinchilla Melon Festival came to fruit-ion (pun intended!) in 1994 when a group of locals banded together to boost the spirits of the drought-stricken town and devise a way to use the melon produce not fit for sale.
Twelve festivals and some 338 tonnes of melon later, revellers from around the globe are expected to 'spit their pips' in 30 watermelon-fuelled events across the four-day festival from February 16 - 19. The event is also a chance for the local community to be on the world's spotlight.
To purchase tickets and view the full event program, visit www.melonfest.com.au.