Sashes Increase Sales
By: Dawn Cheplick, Program Coordinator
I have been with ASG for 12 years and the majority of my time here has been dedicated to the watermelon industry. I am the Membership Coordinator, Annual Conference Event Planner, and Promotions Coordinator for the Georgia Watermelon Association. The GWA has quite an interesting and unique approach in the way they market and promote watermelon. It’s called the ‘Queen Program’, and it’s been going on for over 50 years. The GWA, along with regional and the national queens work throughout the year to increase awareness and boost sales in the industry.
Selecting an Ambassador
Every year, the members, growers and industry partners come together for the Annual Convention, a weekend-long conference consisting of educational seminars, live auction and receptions. The conference ends on Saturday night with the much-awaited event, the Queen Competition. Young ladies compete in a pageant and are selected not so much on beauty, but on their communication skills, personality and their knowledge of watermelons. While her title is known as the Georgia Watermelon Queen, she’s really the public relations ambassador – the face and voice for the industry. She represents the industry throughout the year but mostly during the months when watermelon is at its peak in Georgia.
Taking the Message to the Public
While watermelon queens promote and work to increase sales across the nation, their travels take them to places they have never been. Before they become the spokesperson for the industry, it’s essential that they attend a ‘boot camp’ training program hosted by the National Watermelon Promotion Board to learn key messages, media training, communication skills and the expectations of the job.
Our 2017 Georgia Watermelon Queen, Anna Beth Potter, has been very busy this year representing our association traveling across Georgia and the United States educating consumers about the benefits of this sweet snack. This position has introduced her to so many ‘first time’ opportunities she may never have experienced otherwise. From first-time travels to Toronto, NASCAR races, corn fields in Iowa to eating crab with local Marylanders, she has been very busy influencing the public about her passion for the industry and her love for watermelon. What is it like to be a watermelon queen?” Listen to her response!
Partnering with Organizations
Anna Beth spent the summer months in grocery stores, schools, farms visits and athletic events sharing her love for watermelon with consumers and athletes all over. Retail stores roll out the red carpet when the queen comes to their store. There’s just something magical about a queen in a sash and crown standing in the produce section in front of a bin of watermelons handing out fresh-cut samples of this delightful treat. Young and old alike, the queen will add a smile to a face and, almost always, a watermelon in a cart! It’s been proven that when the queen visits a grocery store, sales increase over the previous year by 12% to 15%.
Since watermelon is 92% water, it’s a great go-to source for fueling athletes. Each year the national queen and 8 state queens join together to greet runners at the finish lines of the Cooper River Bridge Run and Marine Corps Marathon with some cold, juicy watermelon. A natural thirst quencher for sure, but also a healthy dose of Vitamins A, C and potassium.
Who loves Chick-fil-A? In celebration of National Watermelon Month and their new signature drink, the Watermelon Mint Lemonade, the Queen was invited to spend the day touring and visiting the test kitchens at Chick-fil-A’s corporate headquarters. But the real highlight of the day was the opportunity to meet and spend time with their CEO’s, Dave and Bubba Cathy.
As the promotion season comes to a close, the Georgia Watermelon Association begins preparing for the upcoming conference when yet another Queen will be crowned. Our current Queen, Anna Beth, is busy getting ready to compete in the National Watermelon Association queen competition in February in hopes of continuing on this journey for another year as the National Watermelon Queen. This position has allowed many national and state queens to establish careers in agriculture as a result of their skills and the connections from the program. To learn more about the GWA and where the queen’s travels are taking her, follow us on Facebook @Georgia Watermelon Association! You can also visit our website at www.georgiawatermelonassociation.org.
So, the next time you’re on a grocery run, visit the produce section and don’t be surprised if you run into a watermelon queen where she can show YOU how to pick out the perfect watermelon and share much more about this amazing fruit!
Dawn attended Georgia College and State University in Milledgeville, Georgia. Some of her favorite past times include, tennis, camping, jewelry design, and cooking. She is married and has two grown daughters, Jami and Sydnie. She works with the Georgia Watermelon Association (GWA) and the Society for the Preservation of Oral Health (SPOH).