27-year-old Stephanie McLamb won top honors today as being North Carolina's watermelon queen in front of a full house. McLamb beat out a field of a dozen other competitors to win the popular title.
"It has been a long, dry summer," said McLamb who has invested a lot of money in water and fertilizer to keep her melons going. But at $600.00 her first-place prize won back a lot of her investment.
McLamb's melons were weighed on a digital scale. Her largest melon weighed 180 pounds. Her other one was slightly under 175 pounds.
The "oooos and ahhhhhhs" from the audience and judges were good signs that everyone was impressed. "Good and solid," one judge said as he felt one of Stephanie McLamb's melons. "That's what I like to see."
To get her melons into contest shape, McLamb rubs them with melted paraffin. This stabilizes them and gives them a glossy, supermarket fruit sheen. It's a preservation technique that would get her disqualified at Farmer's Market competitions. But because it's so late in the season, fair melons receive more leeway.
At the fair, McLamb must check her melons occasionally to see that the wax is doing it's job. And she must be careful not to bruise them with rough treatment. After the contest is over, McLamb jokingly asks audience members if anyone would like a piece of watermelon?