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franklin county times

Watermelon Festival lights up Russellville this weekend

Plenty of sweet juicy fun is headed to Russellville Aug. 19-20 for the 41st installment of the widely-loved yearly Franklin County Watermelon Festival – right here in the Watermelon Capital of Alabama.

From arts and crafts and watermelon contests to a car and truck show, food vendors, children’s activities, games and musical entertainment, there’s sure to be something for everyone.

The event was voted Best Adults and Children’s Events in the Tennessee Valley in a reader’s choice poll conducted by the Franklin County Times for the past two years.

All activities take place along Jackson Avenue in downtown Russellville from 6-10 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday. Admission is free.

Of course, for many people, the big draw is the live music on the mainstage. Headlining this year’s festival will by Thompson Square.

Grammy award-nominated duo Thompson Square, comprising husband-wife team Keifer and Shawna Thompson, will perform Aug. 20 for the fifth stop on their Country in My Soul tour. They’ll take the stage at 8:30 p.m. There is no charge to attend.

“I’m so proud to be from Alabama,” explained Shawna Thompson. “It’s where I was raised, and it’s in every part of who I am and what I do. I have so many wonderful memories of growing up there, and I always look forward to going home and playing music for our Alabama fans.”

Keifer Thompson also expressed his love of the area.

“I married an Alabama girl, we bought a place in Alabama, and we spend most of our off-time down in the Orange Beach area,” he said. “I love it down there for so many reasons, and I know Shawna always loves going back home.”

The duo shared their eagerness to perform new music for their fans.

“First and foremost, we are just excited to be playing new music. This is the first new music we’ve released since the Masterpiece record, and it’s long overdue. Our new radio single, ‘County In My Soul,’ is a favorite song in the set right now, and we’re looking forward to playing it for all of our Alabama fans.”

In addition to the single, they’ll be playing a few other new tunes that are out on streaming platforms, as well as trying a few things out they’re considering for the second half of the record, to see what the crowd thinks.

“It’s always cool to see how folks react to a song the first time they hear it,” they added, “and, honestly, it helps us decide what music to put on an album.”

Their performance represents one of 14 total stops in the tour, which the duo started July 8 and will conclude Oct. 29. After Russellville, their next stop is Aug. 27 in Oakdale, Calif.

Known for romantically charged No. 1 hits like “Are You Gonna Kiss Me Or Not” and “If I Didn’t Have You,” the pair has celebrated several successes in their 10-plus year career, including multiple award nominations and wins, top 10 tunes like “I Got You” and “Everything I Shouldn’t Be Thinking About,” and multi-platinum status.

To learn more about Thompson Square, find the group online on their website and all major social media platforms.

The festival weekend begins with opening ceremonies at 5:45 p.m. Friday, with live music taking the stage both days beginning at 6 p.m.

Free watermelon slices will be available Friday night at the opening ceremony at 6 p.m.; Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon at the Russellville First Baptist Church Park; and Saturday evening at 6 p.m. at the intersection of Washington and Franklin, beside the stage.

Miss Alabama Lindsay Fincher will be at the Watermelon Festival Friday night at the opening ceremony.  She will be available for photos and autographs following her vocal performance.

More than 100 vehicles are expected for the car and truck show Saturday morning and Light Up the Night event that evening. For more information, call Bart Bolton at 256-668-3542 or Nicole Stancil at 256-412-5724.

Additional activities include a 5K run and 1-mile fun run, character guests to entertain the children and watermelon contests sponsored by the Franklin County Extension.


Aug. 19

5:45 p.m. – Opening Ceremony

  • Cassandra James will sing the national anthem.
  • Miss Alabama Lindsay Fincher will perform.
  • Watermelon Festival Pageant Queen Sophie Hill will, in keeping with tradition, cut the opening ceremony watermelon. She, along with the younger queens from each age division, will be officially presented.

6 p.m. – Cody Bowen
7 p.m. – Joseph Baldwin Band
8 p.m. – Velcro Pygmies

Aug. 20

6:30 a.m. – Watermelon 5K & 1-Mile Fun Run Registration, RHS Field House

7 a.m. – Car and truck show registration begins, downtown Russellville

7:30 a.m. – 5K and 1 Mile Fun Run, RHS Stadium


Watermelon in the Park takes place in the park behind Russellville First Baptist Church at 201 Washington Ave. NW in downtown Russellville. Contests sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce include watermelon seed-spitting, the largest melon, best-tasting melon, most unusual and best-dressed melons.

  • 10 a.m. – Registration
  • 11 a.m. – Weighing and judging starts
  • Noon – Winners announced

In addition, the Franklin County Extension is hosting the Cutest Baby/Child Photograph Contest, Iced Tea Contest, Coloring Page Contest and Watermelon Recipe Tasting. For more information, contact Katernia W. Cole, Extension director, at the Franklin County Extension office, 256-332-8880.

6 p.m. – Light Up the Night
6 p.m. – Tremayne
7 p.m. – REWIND of the Shoals
8:30 p.m. – Thompson Square

The Chamber of Commerce suggests festival-goers consider leaving pets at home, as the August heat, especially the temperature the asphalt can get, as well as large crowds, could overwhelm them.

For more details, visit the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce website at www.franklincountychamber.org and click on the Watermelon Festival link or call 256-332-1760.

For the latest information, follow the Franklin County Watermelon Festival on Facebook and Instagram.