|September 5, 2013
Melon Days was a tad toasty but warm with the human touch
By B.L. Azure
The Mission Valley Honor Guard walks point at the Dixon Melon Days parade, the final community celebration of the summer on the Flathead Indian Reservation, that start the first part of June with Homesteaders Days in Hot Springs. (B.L. Azure photo)
DIXON — The highpoint of the 22nd annual Melon Days was its parade. The colorful event that began at 11 a.m. Saturday (Aug. 24) and featured the omnipresent Mission Valley Honor Guard at the point followed by floats, two- and four-wheeled vehicles, horses and other modes of transportation. There was also the melon eating contest, 3 on 3 basketball, horseshoe tournament, live music, food, rummage sales, youth rodeo and drawings.
The Tribal Health Fitness Centers Program took part in the Melon Days parade to promote fitness and to lob water balloons at the parade crowd. (B.L. Azure photo)
The attendance was down a bit from last year and many people left shortly after the parade. “There are just not a lot of people left in Dixon who want to do the hard work needed to set this up,” said one of the organizers, who wished to remain anonymous. “It does take a lot of time and work to pull this off; we need some more help.”
The Flathead Reservation Sober Indian Riders cruise down Highway 200 during the Melon Days parade. (B.L. Azure photo)
The weather certainly cooperated and the folks who remained congregated in Dixon Park and near the school and wherever there was a sliver of shade. They shared stories with friends, neighbors and made new friends. Thankfully the tenacious bees of this summer were not too bad or in abundance. Perhaps all were too stuffed with Dixon melons to bug humans.
There was plenty of candy to be scooped up along the Melon Days parade route. (B.L. Azure photo)
The impetus behind the moniker of Melon Days was Harley Hettick who 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 old school versus new school at the Dixon Melon Days 3 on 3 hoop games. (B.L. Azure photo)
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.
Next year will be the 23rd annual Dixon Melon Days. Hopefully organizers will get some much-needed help in setting up the event and pulling it off.