by Christa Lollis

There was singing, shopping, and of course watermelons. The What-A-Melon festival is one of the most popular events in Shelby County. One of the organizers, Stephen Shires explains, "Shelby County, 3 things, poultry, timber and watermelons."

And today there were plenty of watermelons in downtown Center. The festival started 19 years ago because of the sweet watermelons the county is known for. And believe it or not, most of them come from two families in East Texas. "They grow watermelons all over the country and they are two are two of the worlds largest sellers and growers of watermelons of everywhere. They all originated here in Shelby County," Shires said.

The festival brings in thousands of people to the area and gives the economy a boost during the 3 day event. It also brings recognition to the local farmers. Another organizer, Chandra Atholi said, "There's a lot of farmers, undeveloped rural economy here a lot of farmers are here and watermelons is one of the products most of the farms cultivate here so it's a time for them to show off their product."

And while this year was big, the Rotarians say next years 20th What-A-Melon festival will be bigger than ever before.