By Jason KUROSU
The annual Sunland-Tujunga Lions Club Watermelon Festival is moving from its traditional home in Sunland for the first time in its 52-year history. From Aug. 16-18, the watermelon-loving crowd will have to travel to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena to enjoy the various contests, music performances and, of course, watermelon. In fact, the watermelon will be so plentiful that every admission ticket ($10, $5 for kids) comes with a free watermelon slice.
Organized by the Lions Club, the event raises funds for a number of charitable organizations. It is anticipated that the move to the Rose Bowl will only add to the fundraising effort.
According to festival director Ara Zeithlian, who has directed the festival the last two years, the move from Sunland was spurred by a number of factors, including a lack of adequate parking and a venue that was simply too small.
With the expanded venue space, the number of events and activities has increased. For those who want a hands-on approach, culinary and carving demonstrations will be presented by professional chefs, and there will be numerous contests, such as the eating, seed spitting and wearable art contests.
On Friday night, the coronation of the queen, king and the royal court will take place. Candidates for the royal court have been selling raffle tickets to raise money for the charities involved.
The festival will also feature a number of musical acts across the three-day weekend, from bands to solo acts to a belly dancing troupe. Even Ronald McDonald is expected to make an appearance.
The festival will also offer attendees a chance to see a pre-release preview of the film, “Cloudy with A Chance of Meatballs 2: Revenge of the Leftovers.” Though the film opens nationwide Sept. 27, the festival will be privy to the film thanks to one of the movie’s characters, the watermelophant – a cross between an elephant and a watermelon. The kids can also enjoy carnival rides, face painting and a petting zoo.
The National Watermelon Promotion Board will also make its first visit to the Sunland-Tujunga festival as part of its nationwide tour of watermelon festivals this summer.
For more information, visit www.lionswatermelonfestival.com.