Hope, Arkansas annually celebrates its claim as the world's largest watermelons with a watermelon festival. In 1926 the first watermelon festival took place in Hope, though the competition for growing big melons began in 1916 by John S. Gibson, when he started giving prizes for the largest watermelons and vegetables. Hugh and Edgar Laseter, local farmers, developed a seed line to try to win the contest. Hugh grew Arkansas's first giant watermelon in 1925. The 135-pound melon generated the excitement that led to the first Watermelon Festival, held the following year. The festival tradition continues, as does the competition for largest watermelon.
The Bright family has been famous for their award winning watermelons ever since they grew a 200 pound melon in 1979. Since then, they have grown them HUGE! In 2005 Lloyd Bright upped the record even more, by weighing in a melon at a whopping 268.8 pounds. The picture below is Ivan Bright, who is known for his famous melons. The other pictures are of other record-breaking melons that this family has grown. To see the complete watermelon heritage click here and here. Governor Orval Faubus in 1965 with a record watermelon. Other pictures below are of the festival and large melons.
For more information on the festival, click here.