September 6, 2012
Melon Days was a good time to reconnect with friends
By B.L. Azure
Harley Hettick (right) didn’t know that when he planted his first melon seeds a quarter of a century ago that they would become famous and be the moniker for the Dixon community celebration. (B.L. Azure photo)
DIXON — The Dixon Melon Days celebrated it street-legal age recently. The small-town Americana community celebration turned that ripe old age with its 21st annual staging. You don’t get a much better picture of small-town Americana then small-town Montana. And last Saturday’s celebration was picture postcard perfect.
This year saw the revitalization of the event with the renewal of several heretofore put-out-to-pasture events. There were some re-growing pains, however. The highly anticipated sheep-riding event at the Lil Buckaroo Rodeo didn’t happen due to the death in the family of the stock provider. But the Farmers Olympics came off, albeit with fewer than desirable participants. The 3-on-3 basketball tournament was canceled due to lack of entrants. Regardless there were still plenty of things to lollygag the day away with. Tops on the list was just spending time with friends and neighbors and catching up on their latest adventures.
Umm, melonicious. It’s not Melon Days without melons and the race to eat the most in a short period of time. (B.L. Azure photo)
There was also the parade that featured Vic Charlo as the grand marshal. Horseshoes, melon eating contest, auctions, dunking booth, foods of all types, flea markets, chicken races and melons, lots of melons.
The impetus behind the moniker of Melon Days, Harley Hettick was out and about enjoying the laid-back festivities in the small burgh. Hettick, who suffered a stroke more than a year ago was a tad physically hampered but emotionally and spiritually he was a free bird taking part in the camaraderie of the day.
Rueben and Phyllis Mathias came to the Melon Days in search of fun and found it as well as a new (used) set of golf clubs and bag. Next stop Spokane and ZZ Top. (B.L. Azure photo)
Hettick planted his first melon seed a quarter of century ago, shortly after moving from Missoula. Four years later the town held its first Melon Days celebration and the rest, as they say, is history.
And the history of the history began in the Dakotas on the homestead of Hettick’s Russian (Ukraine) immigrant grandparents in the early 1900s. Hettick felt that if melons could grow in the Dakotas, they certainly could grow in the Dixon area, a place that is well known for its garden friendly weather. And they did.
It was off to the races in search of some flighty chickens at Dixon Melon Days. (B.L. Azure photo)
“This is a great day,” he said.
Through the years Hettick and his wife Joey and her sons Faus and Guy Silvernale have cultivated an annual craving for the plump juicy melons they grow. By experimentation and hybriding, the agricultural pursuit now produces five distinct varieties of melons that are sold regionally. Few people leave Dixon Melon Days without a melon or two or three or more sacked up for pleasurable indulgences well after the curtains are drawn on the annual celebration.
Hettick said he is looking forward to next year’s harvest and Melon Days. And so are others. The seed has been planted, see you at the big 22.