Free watermelon is just one of the many reasons for the large crowd each year at the annual Franklin County Watermelon Festival. | File photo.
Free watermelon is just one of the many reasons for the large crowd each year at the annual Franklin County Watermelon Festival. | File photo.

Archived Story

34th Annual Watermelon Festival set next weekend

Published 2:08pm Tuesday, August 5, 2014

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

The annual Franklin County Watermelon Festival kicks off next Friday, August 15, in downtown Russellville and will last through Saturday evening, August 15.

For the past 33 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 come to know and love.

“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, roasted corn, shaved ice and fresh squeezed lemonade.

Unique to the festival is the ever-popular Franklin County Cattlemen’s Association steak sandwich sale on Friday and Saturday, 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, best dressed, 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 11 a.m. on Saturday and the contests will take place from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.

For those who enjoy antique and current vehicles and motorcycles of all kinds, the annual car show, sponsored by the RHS Booster Club, 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 11 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 also 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.”

Medley said she was also excited about the new format for the Watermelon Festival’s Friday night entertainment line-up.

“The Watermelon Festival has always showcased the amazing talent in Franklin County, but this year we wanted to highlight our own hometown talent with a special designation,” she said.

“The Watermelon Festival committee decided to name Friday ‘Franklin County Friday Night’ and it will give the area a chance to hear the amazing talent of our county.”

And Medley said everyone has been excited about this year’s headline entertainer, nationally known country artist Sammy Kershaw.

“Sammy Kershaw headlining at this year’s Watermelon Festival is especially exciting because he is known all over the country,” Medley said.

“We are so glad that he will be here for this year’s event.”

The full entertainment schedule for the 34th Annual Franklin County Watermelon Festival includes:

Main Stage Entertainment

Friday, Aug. 15

5:45 p.m. – Opening Ceremony with the National Anthem performed by Brooklyn Hall

6:00 p.m. – Purpose

7:00 p.m. – REWIND of the Shoals

8:30 p.m. – Kerry Gilbert Band

Saturday, Aug. 16

4:00 p.m. – Joseph Baldwin

5:00 p.m. – Tremayne

6:00 p.m. – Dixie Mafia

7:15 p.m. – The Springs

8:30 p.m. – Sammy Kershaw

Saturday Entertainment

Roxy Theater

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

10:15 a.m. – Holly’s Dance Studio

11:00 a.m. – Tara Greenhill’s music students

12:00 p.m. – LUNCH BREAK

1:00 p.m. – Russellville Joyful Ringers

1:30 p.m. – Lauren Ritter’s voice students

2:00 p.m. – Hannah Keller, Hailey Peters, Charlie Gordon

2: 15 p.m. – Mike Rice

2:30 p.m. – Josie Beth Jones

2:45 p.m. – Kaid Wright

3:00 p.m. – Erica Smith

3:15 p.m. – Brooklyn Hall

3:30 p.m. – Blaze Bishop

3:45 p.m. – Ian Harper

Tractor show entertainment

Billy Boyd

The Beans Ferry Band

Jack (Hammer) Johnson

Trail Creek

Chris Williams – Highway 29

Chuck Clark

Courthouse steps

9 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. – Buford Parker

Park Area behind First Baptist Church

10 a.m. – 2 p.m. – The Cadillacs

This year’s Watermelon Festival sponsors include: Bronze: Hester and James, LLC, Franklin County Cattlemen’s Assoc., Family Pharmacy Group, Campbell Vision Center, Davis Realty and Associates, Inc., Rock Bridge Canyon Equestrian Park, EyeCare Professionals, P.C., Joe M. Tucker CPA, Sinclair Lawrence Insurance, Yogi’s Foodco, Redmont Pharmacy, Valley State Bank, City of Red Bay, SAS, Red Bay Hospital, Clark Pulley; Silver: Strickland & Barksdale CPAs, Russellville Water and Sewer Board, G & G Steel, Inc., Morgan Chiropractic, Franklin Electric Cooperative, Russellville Electric Board, Country Cottage; Gold: Gary Upton, State Farm Insurance, First Metro Bank, Listerhill Credit Union, Bank Independent, Community Spirit Bank, Russellville First Baptist Church, Franklin County Times, Gault Signs; Stage: Franklin Co. Arts and Humanities Council, Best Western Plus, Coca-Cola, Representative Johnny Mack Morrow, Senator Roger Bedford, CB&S Bank, Pilgrim’s Pride Corporation, Lanny Norris, State Farm Insurance; Platinum Stage: Stephenson Electric Services, LLC, Affordable Service Heating and Air.

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