COLUMBIA, SC — Gilbert Miller, a Clemson University researcher at Edisto Research Center in Blackville, SC, was elected president of the South Carolina Watermelon Association Jan. 14 at its 45th annual meeting, here. The association also celebrated the crowning of a 2017 South Carolina Watermelon Queen Blakely S. Johnson of Denmark, SC; raised $104,800 for South Carolina watermelon research and promotion during a live auction; and set a marketing plan for the year.
Lynn Williams of Williams Farms in Lodge, SC, who earlier had been a South Carolina Watermelon Queen contestant and this year was a judge for the contest, met with Minta Wade, watermelon queen coordinator from 1985 to 1997, who guided four South Carolina queens to national titles.
Scotty Sandifer, owner of Sandifer Farms in Blackville, SC, and president of the state watermelon association for 2015-17, took the podium to call the 45th annual meeting of the association to order in Columbia on Jan. 14.
A mother-daughter pair from Coosaw Farms in Fairfax, SC, attended the South Carolina Watermelon Association meeting and donated watermelons for the auction. Angela O’Neal Chappell, left, a past president of the association, sat next to her mother, Louise O’Neal.
South Carolina Commissioner of Agriculture Hugh A. Weathers stands next to Scotty Sandifer (in red), president of the South Carolina Watermelon Association, during the group’s market overview.
Matt Cornwell, marketing specialist for the South Carolina Department of Agriculture and liaison to the South Carolina Watermelon Association, reviews plans with watermelon queens and contestants.
A trio of 2016 queens at the South Carolina Watermelon Association recent annual meeting in Columbia: North Carolina Watermelon Queen Sarah Lemons, South Carolina Watermelon Queen Laura Schurlknight, and National Watermelon Queen Carla Penney.
Stevie Still, owner of Goat Hill Farms in Olar, SC, and a member of the South Carolina Watermelon Association’s executive committee, with Martin Eubanks, assistant commissioner of agriculture for South Carolina.
Blakely S. Johnson was crowned 2017 South Carolina Watermelon Queen at the state’s watermelon association meeting. With her are the runners-up Sarah Yarborough and Hannah Martin (in white), along with 2016 queen Laura Schurlknight (far left). Jim Ray of Inglis Markets, who crowned the queen, is next to her. Scotty Sandifer, presiding, is behind the new queen.