Franklin County proclaimed Watermelon Capital of AlabamaPublished 6:07am Saturday, May 11, 2013
The Franklin County Watermelon Festival came from humble beginnings – a simple way for local farmers in the area to gather together and sell their harvest of watermelons.
But what started out as something small has morphed into an event that brings in thousands of people each year and has recently helped the county gain the distinction of Watermelon Capital of Alabama.
The distinction came in the form of a resolution presented to the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce on Friday afternoon.
Sen. Roger Bedford said he worked jointly with Rep. Johnny Mack Morrow to have the resolution passed through the state legislature and Congressman Robert Aderholt had the distinction read into the national congressional record on Friday as well.
“This is a great day for Franklin County,” Probate Judge Barry Moore said.
“We are very proud of our Watermelon Festival and all it has done for our community over the years and we are proud to be part of this great honor our county has been given.”
The Watermelon Festival started in 1981 as the vision of local businessman Bobby Bolton.
What began as a way for farmers to sell their crops has now become a place for vendors from near and far to sell their goods, for local clubs and organizations to set up fundraisers, for patrons to enjoy two days of entertainment and home-grown watermelon, and for community members to come together as one united group to celebrate the county they live in and to display that county pride to the thousands of outside visitors who frequent the festival each year.
Bolton said on Friday that he was pleased to see how the event has grown over the years and how many people have been involved with it.
“It may have been my idea, but I couldn’t have done this without all of you,” Bolton said.
“There are people who have invested a lot of time and effort into this festival and I am just glad that everyone has worked together to make this a success.”
Morrow said it was great that the county was being recognized for their hard work and dedication to the festival each year.
“Having worked in tourism for several years, I know what a festival like this can mean to an area,” Morrow said.
“It can really help to boost the local economy and help visitors see what a special place this is, so I am proud we have been given the distinction of Watermelon Capital of the state.”
Bedford agreed this was a special day for the county.
“I just want to thank Bobby for the vision he had for this festival so many years ago and the Chamber for keeping this vision alive,” Bedford said.
“This is a premier tourist event that is such an asset to our area and that provides a time of food and fun and entertainment that we all can enjoy.”
Russellville Mayor David Grissom said he was proud the city of Russellville has played such a prominent role in the festival over the years.
“We are honored for the city of Russellville to host the Watermelon Festival and to be a part of the team that makes this event so successful year after year,” Grissom said.
“It is a great honor to be known as the Watermelon Capital of Alabama and to be known for having one of the best festivals in the state.”