Update: There will be no 2009 Mayor’s Tailgate Party (aka Free Watermelon Friday). Commenter Carla called Pioneer Square and was told that due to the state of the economy, the folks from Hermiston won’t make it to Portland this year 🙁
Farmers from Hermiston are on their way to Portland, for the 18th annual Mayor’s Tailgate Party. That’s just a fancy phrase for “free watermelon day” (and cantaloupes and potatoes too!). The event starts at noon Friday, August 1st at Pioneer Square.
[Former Mayor Frank] Harkenrider started the tradition in 1991, when he took his truck to Portland City Hall and gave away a load of watermelons himself.
“I had to do something to put Hermiston on the map,” he said.
Since then, the tradition has taken on a life of its own. When former Portland Mayor Vera Katz took office in 1993, she suggested the mayor’s tailgate party move downtown to Pioneer Courthouse Square.
On Hermiston’s end, the chamber of commerce, city council and more farmers got involved. While Harkenrider’s first pickup load of produce was watermelons, on Friday organizers will give away two other big Hermiston crops: cantaloupes and potatoes.
Get to Pioneer Square at 11:30 or so to get a good spot in line. Enjoy political speeches (boo!) and a watermelon seed spitting contest between Portland and Hermiston city officials (yea!). Hermiston City Councilor Jackie Meyers won last year, with a spit of 22 feet!
Hermiston’s on the map??
It sure is – just east of the Umatilla Ordnance Depot.
Well then, I guess that watermelon gimmick paid off.
Thanks for the heads up!
are going to give out watermelon on
august 7,2009 friday at 12:00 pm till 1:00pm
in down town portland oregon?
how can i get by my answer
Brenda – I don’t have the details yet, but I that is the information I have – 2009’s Free Watermelon Friday will be on August 7th.
I just called Pioneer square, and they said due to ecomoy Hermiston will not be coming down to portland to do the tailgate party, but they hope to do it next year:(
Carla – Thanks for the info! Dang, I was hoping for some free melons 🙁