Pretty much every food can trace its origins to one region and has a city that claims to be its capital. For example, Blackfoot, Idaho, is the “Potato Capital of the World.” There’s a “Salmon Capital of the World” (Ketchikan, Alaska), a “Steak Capital of the World” (Lincoln, Nebraska) and a “Strawberry Capital of the World” (Watsonville, California). And, for some reason, Old Forge, Pennsylvania, is the “Pizza Capital of the World.”
But which city would you need to plug into your GPS to travel to the “Watermelon Capital of the World”? That question is a little harder to answer.
Turns out, seven U.S. cities call themselves the center of the watermelon universe, and all of them have good reasons for laying claim to the title. Oh sure, other foods have multiple cities locked in a battle for the capital crown, but when it comes to watermelon, the sweet battle is the fiercest in the nation.
Here’s a look at each “Watermelon Capital of the World,” along with what makes them deserving of the name. Which one is most deserving of the title? Leave a comment with your thoughts to help settle this debate once and for all!
CORDELE, GEORGIA – Cordele is located in Crisp County, which is the number one watermelon-producing county in the nation’s number two watermelon-producing state. Cordele has an annual Watermelon Days Festival and an auto-racing track called the Watermelon Capital Speedway.
HOPE, ARKANSAS – Hope has a lot to brag about. Besides being the birthplace of former President Bill Clinton, it’s also where some of the world’s largest watermelons are grown (including a then world record holder in 2005). The town holds an annual watermelon festival and even features watermelon in its municipal logo along with the Hope slogan, “A Slice of the Good Life.”
WEATHERFORD, TEXAS – The north Texas city was once one of the state’s biggest watermelon growers (not so much anymore) and once featured an oversized watermelon sculpture outside its courthouse.
GREEN RIVER, UTAH – The tiny town of Green River (population 929) may not be big, but it is home to the “World’s Largest Watermelon.” The old wooden wedge is kept in storage in a hangar in the Green River Airfield and makes appearances at events like Green River’s annual Melon Days Festival.
NAPLES, TEXAS – A lot of watermelons are grown in Naples, and the town has a watermelon festival. That’s about it, really. Oh, the watermelon festival also includes a rodeo. That’s pretty sweet, right?
BEARDSTOWN, ILLINOIS – While other towns call themselves the “Watermelon Capital of the World,” Beardstown only calls itself the “Watermelon Capital.” And for good reason: The town is one of the most prolific watermelon-growers in the state.
RUSH SPRINGS, OKLAHOMA – Rush Springs fulfills all of the usual “Watermelon Capital” requirements. Grow a lot of watermelon? Check. Got a big annual watermelon festival? Check. Actually, that last one is a big check. The Rush Springs Watermelon Festival is one of the state’s most popular festivals, attracting more than 20,000 visitors and serving nearly 50,000 pounds of watermelon each year.