Another notch in my festival belt
Jason Cannon, Franklin County Times
The 26th Annual Watermelon Festival has come and gone but not without a little extra significance: It was my first one.
Throughout my life – mostly thanks to my grandparents – I have been to festivals all across the southeast: The Sweet Potato Festival, in Vardaman, Miss.; bluegrass and gospel festivals all over the state: the Alabama Fiddlers' Convention, which was held in Tuscaloosa when I was about 10 years old, the Chilton County Peach Festival; the Peanut Festival in Dothan; the Peanut Butter Festival in Troy and the Blueberry Festival in Brewton.
That's about all I can come up with, but I vaguely remember something about a sorghum syrup festival a very long time ago.
Anyway, we never made it to Franklin County and its Watermelon Festival.
If you missed this year's festival, you missed out.
More than 100 vendors lined both sides of Jackson Avenue, with nearly as many more sharing the middle of the road.
I spent about seven hours there Friday and close to 12 on site Saturday, and I can tell you there was a steady stream of foot traffic both days.
People were everywhere, clamoring for food, arts and crafts and watermelon.
When the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce began cutting what seemed like six metric tons of watermelon Saturday afternoon, I had never seen so many people swarm so quickly.
Taking into account it was close to 100 degrees Saturday, and most festival-goers had spent much of the day standing on the hot asphalt, a cool slice of watermelon was the best thing in town – at least until it ran out.
In all, this weekend was a great experience for myself and the county.
Local hotels were getting a few extra dollars, as were local gas stations and several other local stores.
A festival with the drawing power like the Watermelon Festival can generate a few extra local dollars in taxes and walk-in traffic for stores.
Not to mention that Franklin County has been the toast of newspapers and network television in the weeks and days leading up to the big weekend.
Tiffany, Lizzie and I truly enjoyed ourselves and are already looking forward to next year's festival. Lizzie got her money's worth out of the inflatable jumpers, which assured us of two nights of her sleeping past 6:30 a.m.
Hopefully, we can negotiate temperatures that are on the shy side of 100 degrees and maybe next year I can get my grandparents up here.