The 2021 Farm Bureau Watermelon Classic was held on Saturday, July 3, at the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum.
The Farm Bureau Watermelon Classic is an annual event and is one of the most significant fundraising events for the Museum. Three local Farm Bureau offices come together to sponsor this race: Southern Farm Bureau Life Insurance Company (SFBLI), Mississippi Farm Bureau Insurance (MSFB), and Southern Farm Bureau Casualty Insurance Company (SFBCIC). After hosting a virtual race in 2020, the race was finally back in person this year. This event helps keep the doors open at the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum (MSHOF) so that this generation and future generations can learn more about Mississippi’s rich sports heritage.
On the day of the event, race goers could participate in the competitive 5K run, 5K walk, or the TrustCare Kids One Mile Fun Run. The 5K race started at 7:30 a.m. on Saturday. Race participants began the 5K on Lakeland Drive in front of the Mississippi Agriculture and Forestry Museum. They finished the race in the parking lot in front of the MSHOF.
In the male 5K run division, first place was awarded to Ethan Kelley, who ran the race in 15:44. Peter Kazery placed second, and Dominic Ward placed 3rd in the overall men’s division. In the overall female 5K run division, Kelsey Shumate placed first running the race in 19:35. Amy White placed second, and Dorothy Wofford placed third in the women’s overall division.
There were over 900 runners, walkers, and volunteers in attendance on the day of the event. The runners and walkers were blessed with a beautiful, cool morning. A DJ entertained guests on the plaza of the museum. Asia Haynes, an SFBLI employee, participated in the race for the first time this year. “The best part was definitely the watermelon after the race. The Watermelon Classic is a great way to get active with family, friends and coworkers,” Haynes said, “I know I will participate in the years to come.”
Farm Bureau had many employees and family members who volunteered at the race. Employees assisted in cutting delicious watermelon for all runners and volunteers to enjoy. Volunteers also passed out water and Gatorade to runners crossing the finish line while cheering them on. SFBLI employee Nikki Villeneuve volunteered with the race for the second time this past year. “It’s awesome to see the people at the finish line knowing they accomplished something,” said Nikki Villeneuve.
Many Farm Bureau employees also took part in the 5K run and walk. Kyle Neely, a yearly participant in the Watermelon Classic 5K run and an SFBLI employee, was happy to have his whole family with him on Saturday.
“I’ve been participating in the Watermelon Classic since 2017. My oldest son was a toddler in 2017 and was actually able to race the 5K for the first time this year,” Neely said, “We will be making this a family run from here on out.”
The 2021 Farm Bureau Watermelon Classic was a great way to kick off the holiday weekend by supporting the community, getting some exercise, and enjoying some watermelon.