WATERMELON DAYS

for 2021 will be September 10-12.

It is always the weekend after Labor Day.

2021, it will be the 48th Year

visit www.fayettewatermelondays.com for more information

 

Planning for the 2021 celebration is still underway.

 

If you have ideas or would like to help with Watermelon Days this year, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

The History of Fayette Watermelon Days             

  The 40th year of Fayette Watermelon Days, the grand marshal was no stranger to the local celebration. Vera (Stepp) Splinter and her extended family were the masterminds behind the original Watermelon Days that took place in 1972. 

              Vera remembers her dad, Atrus "Attie", as an observer. One of his many observations years ago brought him to the City Council and later brought the very first Watermelon Days to Fayette. 

              "He noticed that most of the towns around had celebrations, but Fayette didn't have anything like that," Vera recalled.

              He may not have meant to specifically create Watermelon Days, but after offering to bring melons to the event he helped to orchestrate, the town dubbed it properly. 

              The Fayette native and his wife, Lottie, owned a farm just northwest of the town. There, they, along with their three children, of which Vera was the youngest, farmed a variety of items, including fruit, corn, vegetables, cattle, and more. 

              Vera remembers there being a small crowd that first year, but the celebration taking root and growing more each year. 

              "Dad brought a small flatbed truck with melons the first year, but the loads grew with the crowds. Since it was always hot, they eventually started using tanks to cool the melons," the local woman noted. 

              Attie originally sold his melons from a feed bunk on his front lawn down the gravel road on which the farm was located.  In the 1940s he decided to market the melons on his mother's land right along Hwy 150.  The easily accessible location became a thriving stop for many, as the Stepps sold local produce and products throughout every season.

              It wasn't long before the watermelon business overtook the Stepp family; they eventually increased their crop from a few acres to a total of 90 acres of melons.  Attie would take note of any extra produce and say the family needed to "find a home" for the abundance.  They had stands in Decorah and Mason City, also selling to area grocery stores.

              "We increased the crop as the demand increased," Vera said proudly.

              The Stepps would talk with other melon producers from Iowa and surrounding states. Vera recalls her mom visiting with the wives of the producers and often saying, "They're still talking about melons," in regard to her father and the other farmers. 

              In all their years of supplying product, Vera noted the loyalty of customers from all over Fayette County. People have told Vera countless stories about stopping at the stand to purchase a melon before heading out-of-state or just up the road to visit neighbors. 

              "Those memories are heartwarming to hear," she related.

              The Stepps also sold their famous melons by the slice at the Fayette County Fair from year to year. Vera recalls working at the fair and getting all her best friends to help out as well.  The Stepps also provided many locals with a summer job raking and harvesting the watermelon crop. 

              Although Vera was grown and living on her own by the time Watermelon Days came to fruition, she managed to come home for Watermelon Days one year.

              "I could see all the good things that came about," she noted.

              While many agree that the Stepps played an important role in the Fayette community for many years, Vera said her dad was always humble about any contributions he made.

              "He would always say, 'I didn't do this alone,'" she recalled.

              Attie farmed until 1991; he was 95 years old when he planted his last crop.  He passed away in 1993.  There is a life-sized painting of Attie in the Fayette Community Library.

 

 

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