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Chinchilla Melon Festival

(courtesy Chinchilla Tourism)chinchilla melon festival img_7161

Christmas was cancelled. New Year was flooded. But Queensland's 2011 Chinchilla Melon Festival (17-20 February 2011) will go on. 

Usually he's the one donating, but this week Chinchilla melon farmer Darryl Omargh is asking his melon farmer mates 'down south' to send their fruit north so it can be skied on, punched, thrown, bungeed, raced with and have its pips spat out in a new Guinness World Record attempt, come February. 

"It'll be a struggle, but it's worth it - we'll buy them if we have to," said Darryl, of the attempt to collect an additional 1,000 melons before the Chinchilla Melon Festival opens on 17 February 2011. 

"This festival is vital to the spirit and livelihood of our community," he said. 

Darryl has been boating workers into his flood-isolated property since late December 2010, and says he only managed to get 'one sixth' of his crop in before the Boxing Day and New Years Day floods which devastated much of Chinchilla's melon crop. 

The town's long-established farms have traditionally supplied up to 25% of melons consumed in Australia - and inspired a bi-annual festival which sees the local population of 4,500 more than double over three days. 

"The Chinchilla Melon Festival started back in 1994 as a way to break the momentum of the drought," said Darryl. 

"This year we need to break the momentum of the floods," he said. 
No matter the challenges, the entire town is behind the upcoming festival. 

"We would have to actually be under water on the festival weekend to cancel - but we'd probably just invent 'Melon Boating' as an activity instead," said festival committee member Rachael Green. 

"This will be our town's first opportunity to celebrate 2011," she said. 

"We couldn't celebrate Christmas properly because of road blockages, and we were flooded on New Years Day," she said. 

"We've been planning this for 18 months, and if you miss it, you'll be waiting until 2013 for the next festival." 

Tourism dollars from the 5,000 expected visitors will be vital to the hotels, motels and small businesses who are still cleaning up and repairing flood damage. 

The Chinchilla Melon Festival will be held 17-20 February 2011. 
Melon-related activities will include the ever-popular melon skiing, a melon 'Dash for Cash', melon bungee, melon ball games, a chariot race, an 'Ironman' competition, and a Guinness World Record attempt at 'pip spitting'. 

Popular children's entertainer Justine Clark will perform three times on Saturday 19 February, which will end in a free family concert featuring Adam Harvey and The Wolverines, a fireworks and laser show.


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