SIU students slice into the semester at Watermelon Fest


Students sink their teeth into slices of watermelon Sunday, Aug. 21, 2016, during Watermelon Fest in front of Morris Library. (Athena Chrysanthou | @Chrysant1Athena)

By Shyanne Jasper

Loud chants filled the air as juice streamed off the chins of students devouring watermelons.

SIU’s Watermelon Fest, which occurred Sunday afternoon in front of Morris Library, has welcomed students to campus since 1960, said Cordy Love, director of New Student Programs. It began with Delyte W. Morris — SIU’s president from 1948 to 1970, he said.

“This is just a great way to have students socialize with one another and it helps get the nervous energy out before Monday starts,” interim Chancellor Brad Colwell said with a watermelon rind in hand. He was among dozens of administrators and faculty mingling with students.


Stations filled with volunteers ready to show students around campus were scattered across the lawn.

A rock climbing wall, salukis for students to pet and even a watermelon bowling lane were camped in front of Morris Library.

The festival alone uses more than 100 watermelons for games and for passersby to munch on, dining hall staff said at the event.

This leaves a considerable pile of leftover rinds, which, starting this year, will be sent to a composting facility, SIU’s sustainability coordinator Geory Kurtzhals said.

“Composting is a benefit to us both socially, environmentally and economically,” Kurtzhals said.

The decomposed fruit will eventually be used by the university farms as a fertilizer to grow other produce.


But until then, the juicy fruit played a much more entertaining role on campus.

“As it got down to the very end, I was trying to shove watermelon in my face just to finish,” said Justin Mueller, a freshman studying zoology.

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Mueller was part of a lively watermelon eating contest Sunday afternoon that gathered dozens of students to cheer on contestants.

“Watermelon represents summer to just about everyone, even though school is starting,” said James Allen, associate provost for Academic Programs. “This event is just a way of welcoming students and making them feel at home.”

Staff writer Shyanne Jasper can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @sjasper_DE.

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