Five years ago this summer, my daughter and I took a short road trip down to Southwest Oklahoma to experience the famous Rush Springs Watermelon Festival.
We had a blast. The crowd was huge, the watermelon cold and delicious. We saw humongous melons that were entered in a beauty contest. We wandered through dozens of flea-market style booths and witnessed a seed spitting contest that was open to all comers.
A few days later, I attended an Oklahoma City Dodgers baseball game with my friend, Ed Godfrey, and told him all about the wonders of the Watermelon Festival.
As we watched one of the fan contests the Dodgers roll out nightly for its between innings entertainment — as do most minor league teams — Ed suddenly had an idea.
Why don’t the Dodgers incorporate the Watermelon Festival into the team’s between innings entertainment, he asked.
Before long, Ed was envisioning a marketing tie-in that included a seed-spitting contest for Dodgers fans while promoting Rush Springs and the Festival.
Ed was right on the mark. The Dodgers are missing a huge opportunity by not teaming up with a Rush Springs Watermelon Festival or any of the dozens of festivals around the state that celebrate everything from peaches to cowchips to Woody Guthrie.
Turns out, Ed’s opining has turned into prophesy.
We learned this afternoon that the Tulsa Drillers are celebrating Oklahoma’s reputation as a “noodling” paradise for a weekend series August 12-15.
The Drillers are the Double A affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers and will actually take the field as the Tulsa Noodlers during their Noodling Weekend, complete with special-for-the occasion uniforms.
For those who are unfamiliar with the term, Noodling is the fine art of fishing for catfish with your hands. As the Outdoors Editor of The Oklahoman, Ed recently featured an Oklahoma family that makes its living as noodling guides.
Naturally, the Drillers are selling custom Noodlers caps and T-Shirts to mark the occasion.
Ed was among the first in line for the merchandise.
“My Tulsa Noodlers cap has been ordered,” he told me this afternoon.
We’re even planning a road trip to see the Tulsa Noodlers in action next month.
Calling all fans of hillbilly handfishing. There’s still plenty of room on the Noodlers bandwagon.