Salute to the state’s juicy fruit

Published 12:00 am Monday, August 4, 2003

MURFREESBORO – The rain sometimes fell in buckets, but it failed to put a damper on the annual tribute to North Carolina’s juiciest fruit – the watermelon.

Murfreesboro once again rolled out the red carpet and hosted the 18th annual North Carolina Watermelon Festival – a four-day event that drew to a close here Saturday.

&uot;One of our many vendors hit the nail right on the head when he told me that those who attend this festival were some of the most loyal people he’d ever seen,&uot; said Kay Mitchell, co-chairman of the Watermelon Festival planning committee. &uot;They had to be loyal in regards to the weather we had last week.&uot;

A stalled low pressure system hung over central North Carolina for the majority of last week, creating wave after wave of late afternoon and early evening showers and thunderstorms. But despite the wet stuff, the show went on. After all, this was a tribute to the &uot;water&uot;melon.

The weather did keep the overall attendance figures down as Mitchell estimated approximately 30,000 people visited the festival over the four days. That was down from last year’s estimate of 40,000 patrons.

&uot;They may have dashed for cover when one of those brief showers past over, but they came right back out as soon as the rain stopped,&uot; noted Mitchell.

Judging from the comments made by the food and craft vendors, Mitchell said this year’s event was yet another in a long line of success stories.

&uot;One told me that he has been to other festivals throughout our state and that ours, by far, was the best,&uot; she boasted. &uot;That makes you feel good about all the hard work and planning that goes into putting on a festival this size.&uot;

The festival’s success, according to Mitchell, is a tribute to the numerous volunteers that keep things going smoothly behind the scenes.

&uot;Our volunteers once again did a bang-up job,&uot; stressed Mitchell. &uot;Many of them were here every minute of every day.&uot;

Mitchell also passed out praise to the security force that patrolled the festival grounds and to Glover Construction for providing the funding to hire additional security. She thanked Georgia-Pacific Resins of Conway for providing the financial support that was used to put on a magnificent fireworks display on Saturday night.

&uot;Despite the weather, everything went extremely well,&uot; she concluded. &uot;The bands and other groups were very entertaining, the amusement rides were again a big hit and we got nothing but positive feedback from the food and craft vendors. We’re already using that information to start planning the 2004 North Carolina Watermelon Festival. We will strive to become even bigger and better.&uot;