By Jackie HOUCHIN
The Sunland-Tujunga Lions Club welcomes Southern California to its 50th Annual Watermelon Festival this Friday through Sunday at Sunland Park, 8651 Foothill Blvd. in Sunland. The fun begins on Friday from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. and continues Saturday from noon to 11 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 10:30 p.m.
Admission is $5 for adults and $2 for kids under 40 inches. Babies are free. Those who come dressed in watermelon costumes will pay only $2 for adults, $1 for kids. They can then sign up for the Wearable Art Contest at the Lions Club booth. The Patchwork Penguin in Tujunga has many watermelon print fabrics.
Admission includes free watermelon every day.
Live entertainment on the Sweet Melon Stage includes such well know bands as The Heist, Clean Slate, Rose’s Pawn Shop, and S-T’s own high school students in The Garage Band, finishing Sunday night with Happiness Jazz Band and a Dean Martin Tribute by crooner Andy Dimino – a total lineup of 15 groups.
On Saturday at 8 p.m. on the Sweet Melon Stage the Watermelon Festival king, queen, junior queen, and the royal court will be crowned.
There will be unlimited carnival rides available by purchasing a $25 wristband or paying just $1 each. Folks can cool off on the water slides; watch the classic clowns juggle, make balloon animals and paint faces; try their hand at arcade games; ride ponies and pet friendly animals.
Spin the new Melon Wheel (a free spin comes with full admission or for $1) to win prizes such as a free watermelon, three seeds for the spitting contest, a bottle of water, an ear of corn or a free raffle ticket.
Contests include buying three watermelon seeds for $1 and seeing how far they can be spit. Prizes will be given each day with a grand prize of $100 to the person who can spit a seed the greatest distance. A $500 prize goes to anyone who breaks the Watermelon Festival record.
Raffle tickets will be available at the Lions Club Booth or from the watermelon queen and princesses for $1 each. Visitors can also trade used eyeglasses or hearing aids for a raffle ticket at the Lions Club booth.
Cash prizes will be awarded Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights at 9 p.m. Bonus prizes (e.g. tickets to Dodger games, San Diego Zoo, Aquarium of the Pacific, Six Flags, etc. and dine-out gift certificates) will also be given away each night at 9 p.m.
Contests for growing the largest or most unusual watermelon, eating the most watermelon in a certain time and running relay races with greased watermelons will entertain participants and watchers alike.
On Saturday and Sunday in the Watermelon Pavilion, there will be culinary demonstrations by Chef Jesse Sanchez, executive sous chef for the L.A. Mission College Culinary Arts Program. Chef Martin A. Gilligan will demonstrate watermelon carving on Sunday at 1 p.m.
Submitted recipes that use watermelons as salad/appetizers, main courses, desserts or a beverage will be judged at 3 p.m. on Saturday by Chef Jesse Sanchez. Prizes will be cooking related items and restaurant gift certificates.
In the Marketplace find booths for arts & crafts, face painting, candy, jewelry, clothing, health foods and more. In the Community Courtyard, organizations and non-profit groups will have literature and representatives available to answer questions.
In the International Food Court meals and tasty treats from 12 popular food vendors will be available including deep fried watermelon on a stick, watermelon ice, and watermelon lemonade.
Funds raised by the Watermelon Festival are used by the S-T Lions Club to provide help and support to Sunland-Tujunga youth and community activities, disaster relief and to support health and vision conservation programs in California and the nation. The Lions Club is a non-profit 501c4 organization.
For a complete schedule of events and entertainment, visit www.lionswatermelonfestival.com.