Melon skiing is just one of the melon-related events at the Chinchilla Melon Festival.
Melon skiing is just one of the melon-related events at the Chinchilla Melon Festival. www.melonfest.com.au

Smashing a melon world record

CHRISTMAS was cancelled. New Year was flooded. But Queensland's 2011 Chinchilla Melon Festival will go on.

Usually the one donating, Chinchilla melon farmer Darryl Omargh is asking his melon farmer mates ‘down south' to send their fruit north so it can be skied on, punched, thrown, bungeed, raced with and have its pips spat out in a new Guinness World Record attempt, come February.

He is attempting to collect an additional 1000 melons before the festival opens on February 17.

“It'll be a struggle but it's worth it,” Darryl said. “This festival does so much for the spirit and economy of our community.”

Darryl has been boating workers into his flood-isolated property since late December and says he only managed to get one sixth of his crop in before the Boxing Day and New Year's Day floods which devastated much of the town's melon crop.

Long-established farms have traditionally supplied up to 25 per cent of melons consumed in Australia – and inspired a bi-annual festival which sees the local population of 4500 more than double over three days.

“The Chinchilla Melon Festival was started back in 1994, as a way to break the momentum of the drought. This year we need to break the momentum of the floods.”

No matter the challenges, the entire town is behind the upcoming festival.

“We would have to actually be underwater on the festival weekend to cancel – but we'd probably just invent melon boating as an activity instead,” festival committee member Rachael Green said.

“This will be our town's first opportunity to celebrate 2011,” she said.

“We couldn't celebrate Christmas properly because of road blockages and we were flooded on New Year's Day. We've been planning this for 18 months and if you miss it, you'll be waiting until 2013 for the next festival.”

Melon-related activities at the 2011 Chinchilla Melon Festival will include melon skiing, a melon dash for cash, melon bungee, melon bullseye, melon ball games, a chariot race, melon ironman, the pip-spitting competition, street stalls and a parade.

Popular Playschool presenter Justine Clarke will entertain children with three separate performances on the Saturday.

A fireworks and laser show is planned for the Saturday evening, along with a free family concert featuring Wolverine and Adam Harvey.

MORE INFO

The 10th Chinchilla Melon Festival will be held from February 17-20. For more details visit: www.melonfest.com.au.



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