Purchase photos

Cantaloupes go fast at stand

7/25/2013

By DIANE GASPER-O'BRIEN

dobrien@dailynews.net

They say seeing is believing. Well, so is smelling.

That's what cantaloupe lovers were doing shortly after Wayne Wittman pulled his trailer full of melons into the parking lot of Orscheln Farm and Home Store in Hays Wednesday morning.

"They smell them; they shake them," Wittman said, shrugging his shoulders. "Whatever it takes."

The Hays man is in his sixth year of bringing cantaloupe and watermelons from Devore Farms in St. John to people in the Hays area to purchase.

Wednesday was the first sale of 2013, so folks showed up early to grab the homegrown melons.

"Come up here, don't be bashful," Wittman told potential customers as they approached the trailer.

Some glanced at the pile of melons on the back end of the trailer, while others climbed onto the trailer and browsed through a large container, sticking their heads way into the pile.

"Gotta smell them," Wittman said as customers exchanged cantaloupe stories.

One man told about his dad cutting a melon in half, cleaning out the seeds and filling the cavity with vanilla ice cream.

"Well, I don't know about that," one woman remarked as she reached for a melon and turned it over and over.

There were questions about watermelons.

"They're coming," Wittman assured them. "They aren't quite ready yet. Maybe in a couple of weeks."

Wittman started his sales venture in 2008 when he went to St. John, approximately 90 miles southeast of Hays, with a small trailer that held two pallets of melons.

"Boom, those two pallets went fast," said Wittman, who said it didn't take long to graduate to a 16-foot trailer that held four pallets. "So I got two more pallets, and boom, they were gone."

Now, Wittman uses a 16-foot flatbed trailer that holds eight pallets at a time. He also sets up shop at Russell once a week.

Linda Allen, Hays, knows a good melon when she sees -- or smells -- one.

She and her son-in-law, Cris Nix, each bought six cantaloupe Wednesday.

"Guess what I'm having for supper," Allen said with a laugh as she closed the back end of her vehicle, their melons safe inside.

Wittman pulls in a little before 9 a.m., and plans to continue that schedule until the Wednesday following Labor Day.

"I'll be here until I sell out," Wittman said Wednesday. "I might be here until noon, or I might be here until 5."

Wittman smiled again, adding, "I don't think I'll be here that long."