Watermelons in Hope, Arkansas began to increase in size after a contest for large vegetables began in 1917. A watermelon festival began in the mid-1920's and continued until about 1931 when it stopped due to the depression. During the early festivals, cold watermelon was served to passengers on the many trains which stopped in Hope. The festival also included a "Watermelon Queen" pageant and a parade. Several Watermelon Festivals were also held in the 1940's and 50's.
A modern watermelon festival began in 1977. The annual Hope Watermelon Festival attracts approximately 50,000 visitors to Hope over a four-day period.The festival features numerous activities including arts and crafts, melon-oriented events, and entertainment. The dates of the 2007 Watermelon Festival are August 9 - 12.Information, history, and pictures of the festival and large watermelons can be found at http://www.hopemelonfest.com/. This site also has several videos on the "World's Largest Watermelon" page, including one showing the picking of two giant watermelons in 2005. The first melon broke when it was dropped. The second watermelon weighed in at a world record 268.8 pounds.
There is also a nice collection of giant watermelon pictures at http://www.giantwatermelons.com/. This Giant Watermelon website sells seeds to gardeners interested in growing large watermelons and cantaloupes. These seeds are from melons grown from proven genetic seed lines.