• 88°

33rd annual Watermelon Festival set for the weekend

Watermelons WEB

Franklin County’s biggest weekend of the year is finally here.

The annual Franklin County Watermelon Festival kicks off Friday evening in downtown Russellville and will last through Saturday evening.

For the past 32 years, county residents and out-of-town guests have enjoyed crafts, contests, games, vendors and food, and Chamber of Commerce Director Cassie Medley said this year will offer the same down-home good time everyone has grown accustomed to.

“This year we’ll have some of the same vendors that people have grown accustomed to seeing each year, but we’ll also have a few new things to offer as well,” Medley said.

“We’ll have vendors selling clothing, collegiate apparel, handmade jewelry, artwork and other crafts like usual. I think it’s going to be a really good variety this year.”

Many residents look forward to the food at the festival which includes festival staples like funnel cakes, polish sausage dogs, chicken on a stick, shaved ice and fresh squeezed lemonade.

Unique to the festival is the ever-popular Franklin County Cattlemen’s Association steak sandwich sale, the proceeds of which are used to re-invest in the community through scholarships.

And of course, festivalgoers will be able to enjoy all the free watermelon they can eat at the park area behind First Baptist Church.

“Everyone loves the traditional festival food, and we’ll have several food vendors this year serving up everyone’s favorites,” Medley said.

The watermelon contests, including the largest, best tasting, most unusual and seed spitting contests, will take place near the free watermelon in the park area behind First Baptist Church. Registration for the contests will be at 10 a.m. on Saturday and the contests will take place at noon.

For those who enjoy antique and current vehicles and motorcycles of all kinds, the annual car show will take place near the Franklin County Courthouse on Saturday.

Registration for the car show will take place Saturday morning from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. in front of the courthouse. The registration fee is $20 for one car or motorcycle and $15 for any additional vehicle entered by the same owner. Judging will take place at 10 a.m. and awards will be given out at noon.

“We always have a great crowd at the car show,” Medley said. “It just seems to grow each year and it looks like this year there are some great cars that will be entered, so it should be very entertaining for our car enthusiasts.”

Another highlight of each year’s festival is the slate of local and out-of-town entertainment.

“We’ll have music scheduled at various places around downtown Russellville throughout the festival,” Medley said, “and there really will be something everyone can enjoy. We’ll have bluegrass, country, gospel, pop and soft rock, so any type of music listener will get to hear something they like.”

Even though the vendors, food and entertainment would be enough to draw a crowd to downtown Russellville this weekend, Medley said this is just a good opportunity for the local residents to support their community.

“Trying to find something to entertain your family these days can get pretty expensive, but this is a free festival happening right here in the county,” Medley said. “Even though we have some out-of-town vendors and entertainers, a lot of the people will be your friends and neighbors that you will have the opportunity to support.

“Some of the school and civic organizations or different sports teams hold fundraisers during the event, and it’s just a good time to get out and mingle with your friends and family.

“It’s just a great event for everyone involved and we hope everyone will come out this weekend to have a good time.”

Friday’s entertainment will include Leann Trapp at 6 p.m., New Ground at 7 p.m., and the Kerry Gilbert Band at 8:30 p.m.

Entertainment on Saturday will get started at 4 p.m. with Joseph Baldwin, the Red Bay FFA Quartet and String Band at 5 p.m., Brianna Dean at 6 p.m., The Springs at 7:15 p.m. and The Flashbacks at 8:30 p.m.

Franklin County Watermelon Festival Entertainment Schedule:

Main Stage Entertainment

Friday, Aug. 17

5:45 p.m. – Opening Ceremony with the National Anthem performed by Sarah Aycock

6:00 p.m. – Leann Trapp

7:00 p.m. – New Ground

8:30 p.m. – Kerry Gilbert Band

Saturday, Aug. 18

4:00 p.m. – Joseph Baldwin

5:00 p.m. – Red Bay FFA Quartet and String Band

6:00 p.m. – Briana Dean

7:15 p.m. – The Springs

8:30 p.m. – The Flashbacks

Saturday Entertainment

Roxy Theater

10:00 a.m. – Introduction of Watermelon Pageant winners

10:15 a.m. – Love to Sing Studio

11:00 a.m. – Caley Farris

12:00 p.m. – LUNCH BREAK

1:00 p.m. – Joyful Ringers

1:30 p.m. – Lauren Stroud Voice Students

2:00 p.m. – Massey Music

2:30 p.m. – Taylor Hollimon

2:45 p.m. – Carly Lacks

3:00 p.m. – Kristin Davenport

3:15 p.m. – Brooklyn Hall

3:30 p.m. – Blaze Bishop

3:45 p.m. – Jesse Black/Ian Harper

Tractor show entertainment

Buford Parker and Billy Boyd

Park Area behind First Baptist Church

10 a.m. – 2 p.m. – The Cadillacs