In Luling, TX, a Shop Devotes Itself Almost Exclusively to Watermelons; All Hail the Thump Queen!

The sheer quantity of watermelon-themed merchandise is bewildering.

Luling is an important whistlestop on the Central Texas barbecue trail. Sitting on the main drag just across from the railroad tracks that bisect the town, City Market is one of those venerable pits that grew out of an early 20th-century grocery store and butcher shop, where barbecue is dispensed from a blackened pit room in the back and eaten at trestle tables amid a stock of groceries that has dwindled in the past few decades.

The store makes quite a splash on Luling's dusty main street.

Luling is famous for other things, too. It lies in the black-dirt farm country east of Austin and San Antonio, where cotton was once king. Concurrently, oil drilling became important, but you'll see few wells in operation on the outskirts of the town these days. Rather, the countryside has become famous for growing watermelons.

Watermelons have become something of a town theme, and the water tower on the southeastern outskirts--as you're heading toward Gonzales--is painted to look like one. You can see it for miles. Every June is a Thump Festival, commemorating Luling's watermelon-farming industry, culminating in the crowning of a Thump Queen from among girls of high school age.

How about a watermelon jacket, an apron, a blouse, or pajamas?

Or a tutu?

Or hideous piece of photo-art featuring Photoshopped infants?

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