Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson will enter the watermelon eating mayhem on Saturday, August 12 when he makes another visit to the Hope Watermelon Festival. Hutchinson had last been a participant in 2014.

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson will enter the watermelon eating mayhem on Saturday, August 12 when he makes another visit to the Hope Watermelon Festival. Hutchinson had last been a participant in 2014.
Elected officials from throughout Arkansas have traditionally participated in the event, especially during election year cycles. Hutchinson will be be up for re-election in 2018. Forth District Chair Sharon Wright confirmed Hutchinson’s appearance at the contest Monday night, and she said other candidates, like Secretary of State contender Trevor Drown, will also visit the festival.
Last year, U.S. Senate contenders, incumbent John Boozman and challenger Conner Eldridge, appeared together. Hutchinson will take the stage again Saturday, weather permitting, along with several of the familiar local politicians. County Judge Haskell Morse had briefly counseled Boozman prior to the event last year.
"It's not the amount you eat; those slices are all about the same size, it's a race," he told Boozman, who was wearing a UA-Hope shirt over his normal attire.
Eldridge, who was famously traveling the state with a podium, had also openly challenged Boozman to a spontaneous debate, saying “We can make history right here, right now, at the Watermelon Festival.”
The impromptu debate never happened, and both Boozman and Eldridge proved no contest for the defending champion, Hempstead County Sheriff James Singleton, who sloshed his way to victory again.
To the casual observer, “the race” as Morse put it, appears to involve little actual eating of the melon at all.  Techniques employed by both Singleton and Prosecutor Christi McQueen, who finished second — as caught on both video and still photos last year — appeared to be a simple matter of running one’s face across the melon as quickly as possible, in effect, sawing the melon down to rhine, and then, claiming victory.
In a prior interview with the Hope Star, Singleton compared his method to a wild hog, saying “My strategy is to 'get all up in it' and root around like a hog."
Per tradition, the "Politically Correct" contest will kick off at 11:30 a.m. and will be followed by the regular Watermelon eating contest at 12 noon, which pits kids of different age categories against each other.

Boozman will not be appearing at the event this year.  On Thursday, a press release from his Washington DC office, said Boozman was undergoing heart surgery for an arota tear.