A propane tank painted to look like a watermelon sits in front of a produce stand on Highway 150 in Fayette County, Iowa. Its long-time owner, Atrus (Attie) Stepp, who was Black, launched Fayette’s annual Watermelon Days festival in 1976.
“Everybody’s got good things to say about Attie,” said Charles Downs, who runs the stand now.
Downs, who is white, bought the stand from Stepp’s daughter, ending the family’s long legacy.
“Conservatively, I’d say it’s been here 80 years, at least, and it’s probably... maybe a hundred,” Downs said.