Three locally elected officials stood under a pavilion at the Newberry town square and took a shot at winning bragging rights for being able to spit a watermelon seed the farthest.
The annual Newberry Watermelon Festival hosts the contest every year, and the 2021 festival held on May 15 was no exception, despite erroneous local reports saying the contest did not happen.
For a little perspective, the first record-setting seed spitter was John Wilkinson, who in 1989 set the Guinness World Record for the longest watermelon seed-spit at a whopping 65 feet. Wilkinson accomplished the feat at a watermelon festival in Luling, Texas.
That record was broken the same year by a man named Lee Wheelis, who launched his seed 68 feet, 9 1/8 inches.
The longest seed-spitter in the history of the Newberry Watermelon Festival is U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho, who launched a seed 34 feet.
At the 2021 Newberry Watermelon Festival, Yoho’s replacement, Rep. Kat Cammack took on two local elected officials, Newberry Mayor Jordan Marlowe and Alachua County Sheriff Clovis Watson.
Marlowe went first and wasted no time launching his seed.
“It’s the bounce he said,” as the official measuring team ran out to record his effort. Officials announced the distance as 13.5 feet, and up next was Cammack.
“I’ve got to get the aerodynamics right,” said Cammack as she set up for her shot.
After Cammack’s measurement of 19 feet came back from the official, Marlowe said, “I think it was the boots,” taking note that Cammack had on cowboy boots and he did not.
The final contestant was Alachua County Sheriff Clovis Watson, who grew up working in local watermelon fields. According to his bio, Watson “is no stranger to hard work. He spent many days in the fields harvesting cucumber, tobacco, watermelon, squash, etc. to earn money.”
While Cammack was winding up to take her shot, Watson commented that he was going to win.
And just as Sheriff Watson got ready to take aim, Marlowe said, “Now the sheriff has got experience with this.”
Watson stepped up for his turn and took a shot but lost his footing so he got a do-over.
“I’m gonna beat you,” he said to his competition”—and then he shot a seed out 23 feet.
And, just to be fair, Rep. Cammack took a second shot but fell short, reaching 21 feet.
After the event, Rep. Cammack posted on her Twitter feed, “I was foiled for another year by Sheriff Watson of @AlachuaSheriff in the seed spitting competition, but I’m ready for victory next year!”