2018 Cantaloupe Festival & Country Fair: Meet the King and Queen
FALLON, Nev. — Below is some biographical information about this year’s Cantaloupe King and Queen.
Neil and Kelli Kelly met in San Diego in 2004. Neil was working as a Combat Air Intercept Control Instructor in the U.S. Navy, and Kelli was just finishing up culinary school and working at a commissary selling boat parts.
Neil proposed a matter of days before leaving on deployment on the USS Preble. Kelli kept busy while Neil was gone by running a restaurant in Shelter Island. They were married on October 21, 2007.
In late 2008, Neil accepted orders to NAS Fallon as an instructor at TOPGUN. Kelli and Neil moved to Fallon on August 26, 2009, and attended their first Cantaloupe Festival the following weekend.
When Neil retired from the Navy in 2011, they decided to make Fallon their forever home. Neil and Kelly have been involved in the community by serving on the board of directors for the Fallon Youth Club. Together they orchestrate two fundraising golf tournaments and sponsor Fallon Youth Baseball.
Neil is currently working as the Range Operations Manager for the base. Kelli is the Executive Director for the Fallon Food Hub, where she works to promote and support local agricultural producers.
Additionally, Kelli sits on the Career and Technical Education advisory committee for Churchill County School District, the Nevada Farms Conference board of directors, and the board of directors for NevadaGrown.
Their favorite thing to do is watch the Chicago Cubs play baseball, and snuggle with their three dogs (Ryno, Cubbi, and Graci) — while eating cantaloupe, of course.
Q-and-A with the Cantaloupe King and Queen…
Question: Since becoming royalty of the Cantaloupe Kingdom, do you feel you have changed in the public’s perception?
Queen: Surprisingly, yes. While we first thought that assuming the roles of Cantaloupe King and Queen would have little effect on our day to day lives, there have been a number of changes that we see on a regular basis. We are now regularly greeted by all sorts of people in town as the King & Queen — men are bowing, women are curtsying, and all around people are introducing us to their friends as Cantaloupe Royalty.
King: Children approach me daily for Cantaloupe Taffy. I haven’t seen it so crazy since I roamed the streets of Pakistan.
Question: Follow up — is becoming royalty something you would suggest others do?
Queen: Assuming a royal mantle isn’t for everyone. While there are definitely perks, there are challenges as well. As we say in royal circles, “Heavy on the head of the Queen is the Tiara.” But for those who are dedicated to the ‘loupe, who long to represent the kingdom, and who can’t help themselves from shouting from the Stillwater peaks about our tasty muskmelon — Cantaloupe Royalty might just be the perfect job for you!
King: There’s only so much room in the Parade Truck…
Question: As an ambassador to our area, what would you take a visiting royal to do for the day?
Queen: Royal visits are delicate — not only would we want to impress upon our guests the culture, talent, resources, and might of the area, but we want them to have a good time as well. If the Tzar of Squash came to visit, our itinerary would include: Lake Lahontan (look at all the water), Sandhill Dairy (we make our own milk), Desert Oasis Teff (we grow amazing grains), Lattin Farms (organic produce fit for kings), Frey Distillery (from grain to glass), Naval Air Station Fallon (the sounds of freedom), and the Churchill Arts Council (we have culture aplenty). Of course, if the Chancellor of Cucumber came to visit in late August, we would just take her to the Cantaloupe Festival.
King: Boomers. Libations can increase the heights of camaraderie.
Question: Cantaloupe ice cream – yay or nay?
Queen: Certainly not Nay … but more than Yay … Hip Hip Hooray!
King: Nothing to add here.
Question: What is your favorite way to eat cantaloupe?
Queen: With our mouths. Seriously though, is there a wrong way to eat a cantaloupe? Lately, the queen has been tossing her cantaloupe in lime juice with salt and chili powder.
King: Here neither.
Question: Lastly, what is your favorite memory of the Cantaloupe Festival?
Queen: The Cantaloupe Festival was the first Fallon adventure that we had after moving to town on August 26, 2009. We met our neighbors, watched cantaloupe trebuchets, drank cantaloupe daiquiris, and generally had a great time. Since then, the Cantaloupe Festival marks the anniversary of our moving to Fallon. Now our favorite memory of the Cantaloupe Festival is being the King & Queen.
King: Last year, we saved my Royal Mother from heat-related illness. Winning.