GUEST COLUMN: Keep Melon Fest clean and kid-friendly

For decades, the Howell Melon Fest has offered family-friendly fun for all. Each year, thousands of local residents and tourists make the time to come by our city and share in all Livingston County has to offer.

Meghan Reckling

It’s a diverse, welcoming event that presumes to make no judgment about who comes to enjoy it, as it should be.

But this year, there’s something new on the agenda. “Raunchy Drag Bingo” has been set to be held in a tent right in the middle of downtown Howell on Saturday night.

Last week, I expressed my concerns on social media, simply stating, “The Howell Melon Fest is supposed to be a family-friendly event and not one that should be sexualized with an event like this.”

Within hours of expressing my concerns, I was accused of being intolerant of people who are different. However, nothing could be further from the truth.

My concerns regarding Drag Bingo have nothing to do with any individual’s sexual preference, sexual orientation, or gender identity. None of those are any of my business.

However, I am concerned that the Howell Area Parks and Recreation Authority, which is a taxpayer-funded entity, is using its public resources to hold a fundraiser for a private organization that is advertising that “there will be many raunchy jokes for adult audiences only” during a family-friendly festival.

Furthermore, it has become clear that the public employees who organized this event failed to consult with the City of Howell, or officials in Howell, Marion, Genoa, or Oceola Townships, which compose the HAPRA Board of Directors. This flagrant disregard for transparency is deeply alarming.

Whether it’s raunchy Drag Bingo or if the festival added a Melon Fest Wet T-Shirt contest, my concerns would remain the same.

There is a time and place for events like Drag Bingo – and our local summer festival funded and supported by the taxpayers in Livingston is simply not the time nor the place.

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  1. Wreckless Reckling, the community-slayer!

    How much does Howell love this outsider taking food out of babies’ mouths (I assume Howell business owners still have kids the old fashioned way, and feed them with their income from–WHOOPS!–NOT Melonfest.

    Absolutely incredible. I cannot imagine being so hateful and conniving.

    With a party leader like her, an opposing party seems superfluous.

  2. Did someone drop you on your head? Since when has a beer tent activity at 9pm had anything to do with clean family fun? Yet another manufactured crisis to distract from the fact that the GOP has nothing positive to offer, just hate and fear and division.
    Spend less time trying to control the behavior of everyone else and more time actually allowing the love of the Christ into your heart.

  3. Meghan, this is ridiculous.

    You wrote this to make yourself look better after all the public backlash. Now you just look worse.

    There’s nothing that suggests the event is supposed to be family friendly. It’s late at night and for 21 and up.

    Go do something else with your time.

  4. I was thrilled to hear about Drag queen bingo. Apparently Im not the only one. It sold out before I could enter my information for tickets. Maybe next year, if people like you don’t ruin it. Did you miss the part about it being 21 and over? Or that it doesn’t start until 9:30pm? OR the fact that if you REALLY find this offensive you can just NOT GO?

  5. And the classic t shirts sold at previous melon fests with women holding melons over their breasts is just good clean family fun right?

  6. Cool, then lets have KKK bingo, BLM bingo, fluid bingo, hetero bingo, sideways bingo, why cant there just be bingo and not be stupid? Damn

  7. I think your opinion can, or should apply to the Beer Tent too. I’ve seen some inappropriate behavior and have heard raunchy language there too! When you choose to voice your opinion about something, but you don’t want to be accused of bigotry, then you should clarify that all adult entertainment should be excluded to truly keep it a family friendly event. Something inappropriate could be overheard at either event. If your opinion is that Beer Tent vulgarity and public drunkenness is ok, but raunchy jokes and behavior at Drag Queen Bingo is not, then my opinion is…you really can’t claim that this is about keeping it a family friendly event. Is it really that you just like stirring the pot so people get up in arms about a lifestyle that they (and you) don’t support? Or is it that the charity that will benefit from this event doesn’t share your views, and since you or anyone you know personally won’t benefit from it, you must intervene for the “greater good”?

    I’ve lived in Howell my whole life and for as long as I can remember, the Howell Melon Fest has always been a family friendly event by day, and geared more towards adults in the evening by having the Beer Tent. Whether you are a drinker or not, being able to get into thee Howell Melon Fest Beer Tent is a hometown rite of passage. It’s for adults 21 and over, no kids, no exceptions. A fun community event where adults can connect and have drink with friends, without having to entertain kids, just for the night. There’s a reason that Drag Queen Bingo is scheduled for 9:30 in the evening and not during the pancake breakfast. There’s also a reason that it is a sold out event. It proves that love and acceptance wins. I truly hope that the powers that be, that had the authority to approve this event, stand by their approval.

    I’m bummed that it sold out and I didn’t even get a ticket. But I’m thinking about making a donation in your name to the charity that this event will be supporting. Thanks to your opinion, whether or not your crusade to have the event cancelled because it’s not “family friendly”, you’ll still be supporting them. You can thank me at the Beer Tent. Cheers!

  8. I agree with you Meghan. Entertainment like this belongs someplace else and at another time. I do not read anything in your words to suggest you are intolerant. What I do read is concern for the community.
    I am also taken back that the rec department would sponsor this event whether they went to the HAPRA or not. Paul Bennet must be turning in his grave.
    Thank you for keeping so many of us aware.

  9. You just also have serious qualms over the drinking and behavior at the country western tent. The way you keep clanging on this issue makes us all think that you only wants bars and food establishments to only serve alcohol when every child is tucked away in bed.

    The event in question is being held late at night, demands identification that the person is over 21, and notified everyone well in advance of anyone signing up. This article and everything else you post about this event only proves that you are as intolerant as the left thinks our party is.

    You scream about events being family friendly and about morals, yet you cannot practice the true tenants in our party.

  10. I don’t understand the process complaint. Does it mean the city council is all for diversity, but only if it’s not controversial and they have the chance to review said diversity?

  11. Sounds like you will need to keep your young kids away from the Drag Bingo show. They’re not invited anyway if they’re under 21. Teenagers who (will, naturally, out of curiosity) hang around the tent and eavesdrop on what’s going on inside won’t be hearing any “humor” they haven’t already heard somewhere else. More than once.

    Have you spent years clutching your pearls over the beer tent for the over-21s at the same annual festival for years, with a lot of good-natured carousing going on inside and at least SOME possible (likely) abuse of alcohol and the raunchiness that so often accompanies same?

    If you’re not interested in the Bingo event, stay away from it. “Raunchy jokes for adults” doesn’t mean Sodom and Gomorrah level debauchery and lechery in the streets. This is the adult portion of the family-friendly festival. Act accordingly.

    You said: “My concerns regarding Drag Bingo have nothing to do with any individual’s sexual preference, sexual orientation, or gender identity. None of those are any of my business.” I’m not convinced of the sincerity of the first statement. I heartily agree with the second.

    It’s not your place to decide the morality of others. There are laws for that. If those laws are broken, I’m confident the law-breakers will be arrested by the Howell Police, who will stand at the ready to enforce the law at the festival, as they always are.

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