Crystal Crow (back right in red) and Cathy Drew (front right in black) with the Ozarks Gateway Tourist Council, participated in a workshop, painting items for floats while in McAllen, Texas. Crow accepted an prestigious international award for the music video promoting last year’s Cave City Watermelon Festival while at the three day conference.
By: Tammy Curtis, Managing Editor
There is no doubt the area has realized the huge growth of the Cave City Watermelon Festival in the last few years.
The men and women who work all year long to make the festival the largest in the area with some of the best food, entertainment and fellowship. It has grown exponentially each year since the new board took over.
The hard work and dedication this group of community leaders put into the event each year was recognized in a huge way on Sept. 19 in McAllen, Texas at the 65th Annual International Festivals and Events Association’s Convention’s 2022 Pinnacle Awards.
Crystal Crow, who is both on the Cave City Watermelon Festival Committee and board of the Ozark Gateway Tourist Council along with Cathy Drew, Executive Director of the Ozark Gateway Tourist Council represented the area.
Crow has a passion for the community and festival and is always striving to improve upon the year before. Last year, on a whim, she thought of doing a parody song about the Watermelon Festival to help promote it. Her idea came alive, after recruiting several locals to star in the video and having local musician Garrett Duncan to sing. After the first video was produced for the 2021 festival, the video spread like wildfire “I’m From Cave City”, a parody of “I’m from the Country” by Tracy Byrd.
Complete with drone footage of area watermelon fields in the opening to Duncan singing in front of the Welcome to Cave City sign and Veterans Memorial, the catchy tune continued through a long time tradition the town has of preparing for the Watermelon Festival each year.
The video goes into drone coverage of the massive crowds at the festival, watermelon games, growers cutting melon for the annual free Watermelon Feast to highlighting the splash park and car show at the festival. Kids messily enjoying watermelon and pretty country girls line dancing in the watermelon patch and Cave City pavilion as Duncan performs all parts of the video that depicts how important the melons are to the city’s economy as well as how fun and family friendly the festival is each years. As growers children spit watermelon seeds in attempt to knock over stacked glass bottles adds to the country charm the song and video portray. From sampling Cave City Watermelon off the blade of a pocket knife to seeing the lengthy festival parade come down Main Street, the video undoubtedly makes anyone who hasn’t had the pleasure of attending the festival want to come next year.
Crow always had a dream of seeing the festival recognized in a huge way because she knew it was worthy. On a whim, she submitted the video to the International Fairs Festivals and Events awards. “You know, just to be sure people from all over the world know we have the sweetest watermelon in the world, she explained. On Sept. 18 she and Drew flew to Texas for the IFEA Conference. “Tonight my dream came true as they played a piece of the video and I accepted the Gold award for Best Video Production for festivals with a budget of less than $100,000. This award is known as the Academy Award for Festivals and Events. We are now alongside the likes of the Tournament of Roses Parade, Memphis in May and the National Cherry Blossom Festival who won Gold awards,” Crow explained of the pride of accepting such a prestigious award for a small town festival.
“Now I know for sure that at least 29 states and 10 other countries know about the world’s sweetest watermelons and the Cave City Watermelon Festival,” Crow said. “Here is a huge shout out to the committee, the masterminds behind the festival who plan, organize and do all the awesome things I get the honor of promoting. Garrett Duncan, Adam Davis, Cathy Drew, all the growers, and others who said yes to my seemingly crazy, creative shenanigans and to my boys who always step up and help I couldn’t do it without you — we just won our first Academy Award,” she added with enthusiasm.
Crow and Drew enjoyed their time in Texas, including local cuisine and even the beach. They both enjoyed meeting many new friends and learning about festivals across the nation, most with significantly larger budgets than Cave City.
One of the events in the area in Texas is the McAllen Holiday Parade, a million dollar event that brings $1.8 billion dollars into their community through tourism. The city’s Parks and Recreation Department even have their own float studio where they build their sponsors floats for them. The ladies also were able to work teams at the Float Studio creating and painting a butterfly
The last keynote speaker for the event was the Executive Director of the Tournament of Roses Parade. “It’s interesting how no matter the size of the event, we all have the same mission, similar processes, goals, and sometimes struggles. But I’m glad we haven’t had to deal with a float catching fire, being abandoned by its driver to go rolling down a hill,” Crow explained of some of the things she learned while in Texas.
There is no doubt, more than one idea implanted in Crow’s mind will be implemented to make the 2023 Cave City Watermelon Festival even more successful.