Melon Fest brings business boom to Milan

MILAN The Melon Festival, historically take place every Labor Day weekend in downtown Milan has been
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010



The Melon Festival, historically take place every Labor Day weekend in downtown Milan has been boosting downtown business for 49 years.

Complete with children in strollers and the wiser in wheelchairs, young and old littered the towns square, bringing extra revenue over the holiday weekend.

The festival brings in tens of thousands of people over its three-day debut helping local businesses raise funds.

"The numbers get higher (during this time of year)," Jim's Pizza Box owner Jim West said Monday, "Each year you get wiser and work smarter."

Watching crowds steadily approaching, business owners didn't blink an eye but stood their ground, welcoming the rush.

Celebrating almost 30 years in business, West said the festival calls for an overstock of food items.

"You can't sell it if you don't have it," he said, "We've never ran out of anything, I don't let that happen."

The festival also brings the need to add more staff to the schedule to accommodate large parties looking to kick back and enjoy a bite to eat.

"Everyone has to work," West said of his employees, "But we work them in shifts so they can enjoy the festival at night. We close (on the following) Tuesday to give them a rest."

Though many circled the square several times before finding available parking, long walks didn't cease the laughing and smiling faces of those eager to partake.

"We get around here every year," Norwalk resident Faith Miller said, "We bring my nieces and nephews and they have a blast."

Miller's niece, Hannah 6, smiled, revealing her melon ice-cream mustache, a trademark flavor provided by Tofts that comes out once each year.

"I like alls ice cream," she said giggling, "But they (her aunt and uncle) said this kinds good for me."

Due to the demand of the once a year availability, patrons and vendors revealed by 3 p.m. Monday, the flavor had been sold out.

Demand during the weekend lies not only in food, but also in antiques.

Nancy Gfell, who owns the Milan Inn-Tiques said the crowds are unpredictable but there's never a dull moment.

"It gets crazy around here," she laughed, "Summer is usually pretty busy with the tourists, but we get real busy during this time."

To prove her point, she motioned to the lumps of people around the store and was interrupted repeatedly by curious shoppers.

Whether it was the gorgeous weekend weather or the assortment of food and friendly faces, one things for sure, businesses undoubtedly welcomed the unpredictable weekend.

"Every year is different," sidewalk vendor Alice Gates said, "But we still make out OK."

Watch a video recap and see hundreds of Spotted! photos from the Melon Fest right now at