40 years of Watermelon Days

CUTLINE: Grand marshals of Fayette’s Watermelon Days this year are Roy and Jean Karlson. Over the last several years, Roy has built birdhouses, similar to those seen outside of the couple’s home, for the Friends of the Fayette Library’s annual silent auction. Jean plays an active role in the local library organization.





40 years of Watermelon Days

By Amber Hovey
Contributing Writer



The 2013 Watermelon Days grand marshals are a couple who have been part of Fayette’s annual festival since they moved from Des Moines in 1973. 

Roy and Jean Karlson were shocked when they were offered the title of grand marshals.

“I am astounded,” said Roy.

“It’s quite an honor,” added Jean. 

The parents of two children, they moved to Fayette 40 years ago while Roy was president of the Iowa State Education Association. 

“We had a choice of living here, Oelwein, West Union, or Sumner, and we chose here,” said Roy.

“We came for one year and forgot to move,” laughed Jean.

Since then, Roy and Jean have been active members within the Fayette community.

“He’s a Lion, a Legionnaire, and we are very active in the Methodist church,” said Jean.

“She (Jean) is part of the PTO and the Friends of the Library, and has taken care of the park for years,” added Roy.

If that is not enough, the retired couple also do their part every year in Watermelon Days. 

The Karlsons can be seen volunteering through the church or helping to put on the annual silent auction for Friends of the Fayette Library.

The last several years Roy has built birdhouses (a hobby of his) and donated them to the silent auction. 

When asked about their favorite part of Watermelon Days, the Fayette residents mentioned the great parade and food, the notable contests and music, and the mayor’s awards, which Roy started during his time as Fayette mayor. 

“So many people out in the community have done outstanding things, and we made that a part of Watermelon Days,” remarked Roy. 

For the Karlsons, Watermelon Days is a time they, as well as the community, look forward to every year.

“The community participation is really the thing that has made Watermelon Days go,” said Jean. 

“I think something exciting about this year will be the people who haven’t been here for a year to see how Main Street has changed,” she continued. “People will be surprised how fantastic the Main Street looks!”

This year you can find Jean volunteering at the library from noon to 3 p.m. and Roy cutting watermelon. 

While this year the Karlsons will be the ones chauffeured, Roy will have no problems with his wave.

“I’ve had a lot of practice hauling queens, dignitaries, and this person and that person, and, of course, I’d wave, too,” chuckled Roy.


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