Food and fun

Watermelon Day celebrates 60 years

Stanhope State U won first place in business category. It was entered by members of the Young family in memory of grandparents Robert and Ula Mae Young.

STANHOPE — It was a standard mid-July day on Saturday, but bright sunshine, temperatures in the 90s, and high humidity didn’t seem to stop crowds of folks of all ages from heading to the annual Watermelon Day celebration in Stanhope.

Attending Watermelon Day is a strong tradition for many who weren’t about to let the oppressive–but typical–Iowa summer weather keep them away from enjoying Stanhope’s hospitality in the town park. Rides and games for the kids, Lion burgers and pie from the food stand, a slow-pitch softball tournament and free musical entertainment were all perfect complements to the slices of free ice-cold watermelon that were served all afternoon.

Sponsored by the Stanhope Lions Club, the event celebrated its 60th anniversary Saturday. In addition to the Lions, scores of local volunteers come forward to make sure the day was successful. That’s part of the Watermelon Day tradition, too.

The celebration started with the annual Stanhope alumni banquet held on Friday evening in the local community center, which attracted about 130 Stanhope High School graduates and their guests from all over Iowa and beyond. In 1962 the last class graduated from the Stanhope school before it was included in reorganization to form the South Hamilton Community School district.

Saturday kicked off with a big parade made up of entries from all around Hamilton County. Prizes went to entries in several categories:

Carter and Carlie Williams came with their dad, Carsten, from their home in Boone to enjoy some watermelon on Watermelon Day.


1. Varlen Carlson, 1935 Chevy

2. Linda Erickson, Model A

3. Stan Housberg, Allis Chalmers tractor and planter


—Daily Freeman-Journal photo by Billie Shelton Charlie Shelton, age 3, of Minneapolis, made the most of her slice of watermelon when she attended her very first Watermelon Day on Saturday.

1. Grant Young, Stanhope State University

2. KJYL Kinship Christian Radio

3. Crestview Senior Living


1. Our Saviors Lutheran, Stanhope

2. Stratford United Methodist


1. Clear Lake Sailors 4-H Club

2. Kids Cancer Squad

3. Stratford Lions Club


1. Hamilton County Saddle Club

2. Starting flag bearer