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Local groups, clubs plan activities for festival

 

Russellville Lodge 371 worshipful master Jamie Harris and Treasure Bill Fuller plan to offer food and a/c to those wanting out of the heat during the Watermelon festival. | Nathan Strickland/FCT

 

Downtown Russellville should be packed to the gills this year as the 30th Annual Franklin County Watermelon Festival sets up shop.

For many organizations, the blistering temperatures are a concern during the day and some plan to offer food and fun in the air conditioning.

Russellville Lodge 371 members believe opening their building to the public during festivities could help some cool off and grab a bite to eat.

The Lodge’s Grand Worship Master Jamie Harris said it will be open from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. and will offer barbecue sandwiches, chips and a drink for $6.

The Lodge has been pre-selling Boston Butts for two weeks and Harris believes there might be some left for $25 the first day of the festival.

“We have sold a pretty good bit of them,” Harris said. “We all know how hot it has been and we just thought it would be nice to open up our building to give people a break from the heat while cooling off they can have some good food to go with it.”

Lodge 371 is located directly behind the Franklin County Courthouse, but they will not be the only ones to open their doors during the festival.

The Praise Team at First United Methodist Church in Russellville will be having a free Praise Sing at 2 p.m. Saturday in their air conditioned sanctuary during the prime time heat outside.

Some events plan to begin before the heat arrives.

The third annual Antique Tractor Show will begin at 9 a.m. and go until 1:30 p.m. along Lawrence Street.

“We have all been working together to try and make it as comfortable and as good of an experience for everyone,” said Jerome Jackson, who began the tractor show. “We had a good turn out last year and I believe we will do the same this year if the weather holds up.”

The Russellville High School Marching Hundred will play a huge part in the festival this year displaying several events including a Carnival type setting with games and prizes, a cookie walk, mini band clinic and concessions offering the local favorite “Russellville Dogs”, popcorn and drinks.

RHS Band Parent Association fundraiser coordinator Kerry Bradford said the clinic will be held from 9:30 a.m. until 11:30 a.m. and will be a walk up type setting. Kids will have the chance to participate in a mini band camp with instruments, and some auxiliary units will be there to teach the children football band cheers.

The RHS Majorettes will hold registrations for their annual 5K Watermelon Run on Saturday at 6:45 a.m. with the actual run following shortly after.

 

“Our events will be set up close to Russellville First Baptist Church downtown,” she said. “All of the proceeds raised will go into the general band fund for repairs, new instruments, travel expenses, ect… I know that football is a big deal around this area, but I just really want to promote the band and show kids that there are other things to get involved in while at school.”

As part of the festivities, the RHS Majorettes will be hosting their annual Watermelon Run on Saturday with registrations for the 5K run and one-mile fun run beginning at 6:45 a.m. at the old field house at the track.

The 5K will begin at the RHS Baseball Field, continue in the vicinity of the RHS Campus, and finish with a lap on the RHS Track.

Water stations will be provided at two points along the course. Refreshments, courtesy of local businesses, will be available at the RHS Track.

The Franklin County Cattlemen’s Association plan to persevere through the sweltering heat for Friday and Saturday grilling up their famous ribeye steak sandwiches along with chips and a drink for $6 from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. Friday and from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Saturday. The Cattlemen’s stand will be setup on West Franklin Street across from the First Baptist Church parking lot.

Cattlemen association president Greg Smith said they would hold late hours on Friday because they know a lot of people will wait until the heat dies down.

“We hope to sell around 3,000 sandwiches,” he said. “We had a good response last year and we look forward to an even better one this year.”

The 30th annual Franklin County Watermelon Festival will have so much to do with little time to do it in.

The festival is a two-day event and will begin this weekend.

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