The Peach and Melon Festival in De Leon, Texas

One of the oldest festivals in Texas….

By: Brandon Mangan

For nearly one hundred years, the first week of August has meant the same thing in De Leon, Texas.

For one, it means that thousands of pounds of watermelons are about to be devoured. Peaches too. There’s going to be a parade. Beauty pageants. Judging and auctioning of delectable desserts. Live music and dancing. A fairground full of vendors, a carnival boasting whirling rides and kaleidoscopic lights. Tractors spool and spin their tires, pulling giant sleds as their exhausts erupt with smoke. Sounds and scenes of joy in small town Texas. This bevy of attractions are part of an event that’s come to be called the De Leon Peach and Melon Festival, one of the oldest festivals in Texas, and it’s taking place from August 6th through the 10th this year. I don’t think you’ll want to miss it.

The festival has a storied history, originally taking place under the name of the “Free Fall Fair” in 1914. A few years later the town began growing watermelons commercially, only to realize that the melons the town grew were white hearted and of little value on the market. A committee was formed and a meeting was held. The town sent local resident L.B. Patterson to Weatherford to find good seed and to learn how to make it prosper. While there Mr. Patterson was invited to and later attended a social gathering centered on the slicing of copious amounts of melons. Mr. Patterson must have enjoyed himself. He was struck by it.

The experience brought him to send not one, not two, but three letters to the De Leon Free Press Editor about having a carving that year in De Leon. So, in 1922 the town had a watermelon slicing of grand proportion. Local melon growers made a deal with the City of De Leon. They’d provide the fruit if the City would get the word out about it and clean up after the event.

The rest is history.

In 1923 there were 1,000 melons set to be consumed and the town hasn’t looked back.

This year promises to build upon the past and put on the biggest festival yet. Featured food vendors this year will offer everything from brisket, donuts, to kabobs, fair classics like turkey legs and sausage on a stick. Cajun offerings will be available, as well as kettle corn, snow cones, fine mexican, afro-fusion and fire cooked pizza. There will also be boutiques and various merchants on the grounds each night.

The week begins Tuesday with pageants in three classes, culminating at 9:00 PM with the selection of the festival Queen. Wednesday brings judging of cakes, peach desserts, as well as melons and fruits. The Triple T Amusement carnival arrives, with rides beginning at 6:00 PM. That evening there’s a parade downtown (7PM), the kids tractor pull and the queen’s coronation (8:30PM), with the Cake and Melon auction taking place at 9:00 PM. Thursday the carnival begins at 6:00 PM, with an acoustic performance by famed Texas songwriter Walt Wilkins at 8:00 PM. Friday the carnival opens back up again at 6:00 PM, with the tractor pulls beginning at 7:30 PM. There will also be DJ David C and karaoke starting at 8:00 PM. 


Golden Saturday is a full day event, starting with the Watermelon Crawl 5K downtown at 7:00 AM. A Texas 42 domino tournament will be held at the City Hall auditorium at 8:00 AM. The seed spitting contest is downtown at 1:00 PM, followed by the free watermelon slicing the festival is named for taking place at 3:00 PM. That night the carnival is open again at 6:00 PM, with another night of tractor pulls beginning at 7:30 PM. Singer-songwriter Van Darian kicks off the music at 7:30, followed by Matt Hillyer of 1100 Springs and Phill Pritchett performing at 8:30 PM. The announcement of Miss De Leon rounds off the evening at 10:00 PM. The carnival sells arm bands each night, $30.00 at the grounds and $25.00 on pre-sale, available at the festival headquarters, located at 5401 Hwy 6, De Leon, TX 76444 and online at http://www.peachandmelonfestival.net/. We hope to see you there!

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De Leon Peach and Melon Festival 2019 Theme Now Announced!

It’s official! The theme for this year’s festival is the Wizard of Oz! Be sure to swing by this small town for festivities August 6th-10th!

The History Of The Peach And Melon Festival

The Peach and Melon Festival By: Sierra Dyson

           Originally called the Free Fall Fair, the Peach and Melon Festival takes place in De Leon, Texas, a small town located in Comanche County, the first full week in August. The festival originally began in 1914 only a month after the start of World War 1 as a way to celebrate the town’s cotton, peanut, and watermelon harvest. The festival has grown tremendously over the past one hundred years since it began and has slowly evolved into what is now known as the Peach and Melon Festival. The name change is due to the vast amounts of peaches and watermelons that local farmers have continued to grow year after year and donate to the event.  The festival boasts a variety of different activities for locals and visitors to be a part of if they so choose. The week kicks off with a carnival that is set up in a field on the edge of town complete with its own Big Top Fun House, Ferris wheel, Tilt-a-whirl, Zipper, and other rides that run all week starting at 5 p.m. During that time span, the town also holds a pageant where young women from the area can run for the honor of becoming Miss De Leon and the Peach and Melon Festival Queen. The winner of the pageant gets to ride on a float and represent the town for a whole year at various events held throughout the surrounding counties. Additionally, there is a parade on Wednesday night where spectators can see beautiful floats from nearby areas go by as well as antique cars, bands, trick riders on their horses, and so much more all for their viewing pleasure. Afterward, spectators can walk over to the First Baptist Church parking lot to have free peach tea, peach ice cream, and peach cobbler all while listening to local musicians play their music on a stage set up nearby. Other activities that are held throughout the week that people can attend is the watermelon slicing, seed spitting contest, spaghetti luncheon, watermelon crawl (5K run), a 42 tournament, Texas swing dance, Spanish dance, Karaoke night, and finally a huge tractor pull which has the largest consecutively running pulls in Texas, featuring dual tracks. The festival ends with Golden Saturday, an event where all of downtown De Leon is closed off and vendors set up their food trailers, crafts, jewelry booths, and other things of that nature for people to look at and buy. It is basically a huge trade fair where children can get their faced painted and play games while their parents shop around and try all kinds of yummy treats. Today, people from all over Texas come to enjoy everything this week long festival has to offer. With that being said, I highly encourage you and your family to come to De Leon to see this cute little festival for yourself the first full week in August, you won’t regret it.