Thursday, September 13, 2007

Lions and Tigers and Melons...oh my - Winston, Oregon

We were brought to Winston, Oregon in order to help revitalize the annual Melon Festival where all things melon are celebrated and eaten. This was a bit of a commitment for the community and the festival, but it turned out to be very successful and rewarding. Some of the highlights are shown below.

Of all of the places that I would imagine driving along in a car and finding lions, Winston, OR would likely not make the top of the list. But as you can see, we came across a couple on our wild animal safari. We saw heaps of other animals too that are definitely not native to Oregon. The facility we went to in Winston, Oregon is also the largest cheetah breeding program in the country. If you want to read more about the safari, check out

One of the strangest animals we came across can be seen in the attached picture. While friendly and cuddly looking, this creature has been known to devour all manner of things that come from Trader Joe's. One definite way to recognize this animal is to listen for its telltale sound...a nasally "huhn".

Winston is a very small town with a lot of working class families. The community was so welcoming to all of us and showed us what small-town life is like. To help get ready and pump the town up, we participated in the 39th annual Melon Festival Parade. Being from so many different places and having some very talented individuals probably gave us an unfair advantage as we won the Judges' award for best float. We now carry our trophy with us to remember the kindness of this great community. In the parade picture you can see Hanna from the Philippines (Ellen's intern) and Niki (from Hawaii) in their international costumes.

As if we did not have enough fun yet, we also went to the Roseburg Forrest Products mill and got to tour their facilities. If there is one thing that I love, it is a good factory tour! I got see how particle board was made and Ellen saw the plywood process. It was totally awesome and we learned lots about the local community and the industry. On top of all that, it turns out that we look really good in hard hats.

Our days were filled with melon-rific activities and we had the chance to meet most everyone in the community (twice). As you can imagine, there is no point in having a melon festival unless there is a seed spitting contest. This detail had been overlooked, so Ellen took it upon herself to organize the contest and make sure that everyone follows the rules. It was definitely a huge hit and I can imagine the tradition carrying on into the 40th anniversary. To make sure that we were primed for competition, we practiced a bit as you can see our Cast Manager Joern honing his technique and run up.

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