Why is Howell, MI So Obsessed With Melon Ice Cream?
I was recently catching up with a friend of mine who grew up in the Howell area. We were talking about upcoming summer plans when she mentioned the Howell Melon Festival. Having grown up in southwest Michigan, I'm not too familiar with the Howell area and I've definitely never heard of the Melon Festival.
I assumed the festival was in honor of melon harvesting season-- or something along those lines-- and thought nothing more of it until I heard it was taking place this weekend. Upon further inspection this festival is not what I originally thought it was! It turns out there's a lot more to Howell and melons than I thought.
In reading about the tradition of the annual Howell Melon Festival, I was originally unsure which type of melon they were specifically talking about. All melons? Watermelons? Honey dew? Cantaloupe? It turns out there is a certain type of cantaloupe that is specific to the area: the Howell melon.
The legend in Howell says a "hobo" passing through town gave a greenhouse owner a mysterious handful of seeds which produced the 'perfect melon'. Thus the creating the iconic Howell melon. One site describes the unique melon as,
a muskmelon variety of cantaloupe known for its giant size and sweet, juicy flesh.
Melon Ice Cream
One of the highlights of the annual festival is the highly sought-after melon ice cream. Invented by George Spagnuolo, this special ice cream recipe is only made once a year and has a long-standing history as part of the festival.
Former Howell Area Chamber of Commerce president describes the ice cream as being so delicious that people will drive hours for it. Often festival goers will tell her, "Yeah, we'll go see the other stuff but we came for the ice cream."
Sounds like I need to get my hands on this stuff! This year the annual Howell Melon Festival is taking place August 12-14th. Check out a schedule of events here.