It was a day of high drama, indeed, in the world of watermelon, Saturday.
It was a day of high drama, indeed, in the world of watermelon, Saturday. Hempstead County Sheriff James Singleton slammed home a third consecutive Politically Correct Watermelon Eating Contest win, and Bodcaw teen Sabrina Bear, 15, won her third World Championship Watermelon Eating Contest title in a closely contested eat-off that required video confirmation for the win. Singleton met a broad field of contenders Saturday, as major candidates for governor of Arkansas, including Democrat and Prescott native Mike Ross, Republicans Asa Hutchinson and Curtis Coleman, were left in the watermelon seeds as the Sheriff, sporting a “Bring the Pain” tee shirt out-chomped the field. Ross said he would rather bring jobs to the state than anything else, but admitted he would “eat as much as I can, as fast as I can.” Hutchinson was also concerned about jobs and education for Arkansas, but as well about Singleton. “I'm not going to wager the campaign on how well I do in the watermelon eating contest,” he said. Arkansas Lieutenant Governor Mark Darr finished a respectable second, and surprise contestant of the day, Eighth Judicial District-North Prosecutor Christi McQueen took third place. It was Singleton's race to lose, as the other competitors kept their strategies quiet and played close to the vest during the pre-contest trash talk. Emcee David “Bubba” Powers had little trouble keeping the contestants in order this year, compared with the rowdiness of some years past. “I'm just here to enjoy the watermelon,” State Senator Larry Teague, D-Nashville, admitted. Teague finished dead last; but, he enjoyed every bite. A Hope Star video of the contest, available at www.hopestar.com, shows Singleton plowing into his slice of watermelon, burying himself up to his chin, then slamming home the rind after Powers declares the win. That left Darr and McQueen in a semi-dazed second and third place finish, as they were the only ones to realize what had happened. “I think the homeboy has got the advantage; I don't know what they do in other parts of the state, but down here we know how to eat watermelon,” Singleton said. In the World Championship Watermelon Eating Contest, Bear narrowly defeated previous champion Larry Lewis, of Hope, in the ages 15 and up category to make it to the overall round. And, in the final, she was up against Tanesha White, of Hope, winner in the ages 8-14 group and Mason Greathouse, of Little Rock, winner of the ages 1-7 group. Greathouse quickly fell behind the voracious style of both Bear and White, with White raising her melon slice above her head after only a few bites, and Bear followed on her heels. That difference led the judges to declare an eat-off because both melon slices had equal amounts of melon meat remaining. The same techniques were played out in the head-to-head, and the judges referred to video evidence to determine who had finished first, which showed White raising her melon aloft first; but, the judges determined in a second comparison of the rinds that Bear had eaten more of the melon and declared her the winner. “I just love to eat watermelon,” Bear said afterward. “I wasn't really planning on doing it today.”