She is a long way from her roots — but it is those roots that got her here in the first place.
Meredith McGlamory, the 2019 Georgia State watermelon queen, was on a whirlwind tour of Newfoundland this week and took time on Wednesday to visit with seniors at the Alderwood Estates Seniors Home in Witless Bay.
“My aunt is a former Georgia and national watermelon queen and to honour her, because I really look up to her, I decided to pursue the opportunity,’’ McGlamory said in a distinct southern drawl.
“I sent in the application, went through the interview process, gave a speech and did an evening gown portion in order to get selected,’’ she added.
In true southern watermelon queen form, she even had to be part of a watermelon seed spitting contest, which, she proudly says, she won with a distance of 18 inches.
McGlamory worked the room, chatted with the residents, participated in a few dances and talked about her upbringing in a small southern Georgia town called Abbeville.
The student at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College is working on a double major, with a bachelor of science and a second degree in agricultural communication/journalism, in addition to travelling the Eastern Seaboard representing the watermelon association.
Several of the residents at Alderwood know all about the importance of agriculture, as back in their day, they had to grow their own crops to feed themselves and generally a large family.
Marie Waddleton (nee McNeill) of Trepassey is one of those residents.
“Families years ago, each one had their own little farm’’ Waddleton said.
“We had our front garden where we would grow cabbage, turnip, rhubarb and onions, and the larger garden — the back garden — is where we would grow potatoes. That is how it worked.’’
Waddleton said her younger days were much different than what families face today. She said nobody bought vegetables back then, as it was necessary for people to grow their own crops in order to feed their large families.
In addition, she said, from her standpoint, she liked all vegetables and was happy to get and eat whatever was presented to her.
“Things get on my nerves today when I see people not eating vegetables, pushing them aside,’’ Waddleton said.
“As you get older, you need the things vegetables provide you with. My youngest daughter is a dietician and we talk about this all the time. People need to and should eat healthy, and vegetables is certainly a major part of that.’’
McGlamory knows the importance of an agricultural life, as she grew up on a farm in Abbeville, a 2,000-acre cattle farm, where her father has 300 head.
In addition to the beef aspect, they grow a number of crops such as corn, peanuts, cotton, rye and hay to help feed the cattle. And, of course, — watermelons, one of the biggest crops grown in the American South.
A number of uncharacteristic things happened during the tour, including a charming seven-year-old noting several times how beautiful McGlamory is, and another wanting to know if he had to bow to her because she is a queen.
Dawn Reed Cheplik, manager of the Georgia Watermelon Association, was with McGlamory for the trip through Newfoundland.
She sometimes becomes the centre of attention and draws a few laughs, at McGlamory’s expense.
“Everyone she meets, she always asks them if they have a son, as she is trying to play matchmaker for me,’’ McGlamory said with a grin.
One of her duties while she was in Newfoundland was to crown the Alderwood Estates watermelon queen. The inaugural winner was Teresa Lawrence, formerly of Fermeuse, who was thrilled with her selection.
“This is quite an honour, a thrill for me,’’ Lawrence said.
“I am not sure of what duties I will have with this, but I am sure my people will find out and let me know. Perhaps Coleman’s will tour me around to their stores.’’
McGlamory left Newfoundland on Thursday — headed to Delaware for a festival there — but not before treating the residents to a tray of watermelon.